1 of 2


few·​er ˈfyü-ər How to pronounce fewer (audio)
plural in construction
: a smaller number of persons or things


2 of 2


comparative of few

Less vs. Fewer: Usage Guide

The traditional view is that less applies to matters of degree, value, or amount and modifies collective nouns, mass nouns, or nouns denoting an abstract whole while fewer applies to matters of number and modifies plural nouns. Less has been used to modify plural nouns since the days of King Alfred and the usage, though roundly decried, appears to be increasing. Less is more likely than fewer to modify plural nouns when distances, sums of money, and a few fixed phrases are involved

less than 100 miles
an investment of less than $2000
in 25 words or less

and as likely as fewer to modify periods of time.

in less (or fewer) than four hours

Examples of fewer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The risk is lower in areas such as the Pacific Northwest, where the population is less vulnerable, and Greenland, where fewer people live near glacial lakes. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Feb. 2023 The Cavs are now just 4-7 in games decided by three points or fewer. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 31 Jan. 2023 Of their eight Quad 1 losses, five have been by single digits — including three decided by six points or fewer. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 27 Jan. 2023 Three of his losses have come by two points or fewer. Mark Stewart, Journal Sentinel, 21 Jan. 2023 See all Example Sentences for fewer 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fewer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fewer was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near fewer

Cite this Entry

“Fewer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fewer. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
few·​er ˈfyü-ər How to pronounce fewer (audio)
: not so many : a smaller number of


2 of 2 pronoun
: a smaller number of persons or things
used in plural
fewer are available

More from Merriam-Webster on fewer

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