less

adjective
\ˈles \

Definition of less 

(Entry 1 of 5)

comparative of little entry 1

1 : constituting a more limited number or amount less than three less than half done

2 : of lower rank, degree, or importance no less a person than the president himself

3a : of reduced size, extent, or degree

b : more limited in quantity in less time

no less

used to emphasize that something is regarded as impressive or surprising wants to be driven to the airport, in a limousine no less

less

adverb

Definition of less (Entry 2 of 5)

comparative of little entry 2

: to a lesser extent or degree

less and less

: to a progressively smaller size or extent

less than

: by no means : not at all less than honest in his replies

less

noun
plural less

Definition of less (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a smaller portion or quantity

2 : something of less importance

Definition of less (Entry 4 of 5)

: diminished by : minus

Definition of -less (Entry 5 of 5)

1 : destitute of : not having witless childless

2 : unable to be acted on or to act (in a specified way) dauntless fadeless

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Synonyms & Antonyms for less

Synonyms: Adjective

inferior, junior, lesser, lower, minor, smaller, subordinate

Antonyms: Adjective

greater, higher, major, more, primary, prime, senior, superior, superordinate

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Less vs. Fewer: Usage Guide

Adjective

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 less in a Sentence

Adjective

We need less talk and more work! She finished in less time than I did. Less detail is sometimes better than more detail. 8 times 2 is less than 6 times 3. We made it there in less than six hours. The whole procedure takes less than five minutes. The illness affects less than one percent of the population.

Adverb

This test seemed much less difficult than the last one. Which test is the less difficult of the two? Do you have another one that's less expensive? She visits much less often than she used to. They're focusing more on quality and less on quantity. Their band is less concerned with making music than with making money.

Preposition

We earned two hundred dollars, less travel expenses.

Adjective suffix

my first painless day since leaving the hospital
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That is less than a third as fast as South Korea, the world leader at 28.6 Mbps. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, "Science suffers as China’s internet censors plug holes in Great Firewall," 30 Aug. 2017 And neither the Police Department nor the Justice Department has released subsequent drafts, much less a final one. jsonline.com, "Trust damaged between Milwaukee police and community, Department of Justice draft report says," 30 Aug. 2017 Abdullah totaled 99 yards in less than one half of the Week Three preseason game. ▪ Alan Satterlee, charlotteobserver, "These 22 fantasy football draft tips will help you nail your opening lineup," 30 Aug. 2017 No city is prepared for that, much less a city with as limited a planning process as Houston’s. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "More Zoning Wouldn’t Have Protected Houston From Harvey’s Fury, But Less Sprawl Would Have Helped," 29 Aug. 2017 Most of the wildly energetic songs sung by magnetic vocalist Marisa Dabice are less than two. Dan Deluca, Philly.com, "10 Philly acts to catch at Made in America," 29 Aug. 2017 Though that greyscale removal process probably would have killed a lesser man. Katey Rich, HWD, "What Actually Happened on Game of Thrones This Season," 28 Aug. 2017 That is less true of applicants from countries that send fewer immigrants, which compounds the perception that our immigration system is maddeningly arbitrary. Reihan Salam, National Review, "The Case for Skills-Based Immigration," 28 Aug. 2017 Pillowy baos (buns) filled with fried chicken, confit pork, or lamb shoulder await, and cost less than a tube ticket. Condé Nast Traveler, "Have you been here?," 25 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

When hopes run too high, merely less-than-stellar news can be terribly disappointing. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "The Danger of Too Much Optimism," 30 Nov. 2018 Nightflyers is the better model, relying less on gore and jump-scares, and instead producing slow-burning psychological suspense. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers asks whether humanity deserves to be saved," 29 Nov. 2018 Partially because these social platforms and features operate by displaying content that either disappears or can only be seen by approved friends and contacts, college admission officers are focusing less on applicants’ social media presence. Kim Quindlen, Teen Vogue, "25% of College Admissions Officers Say They Look at Applicants’ Social Media," 28 Nov. 2018 With Nam Vo's precision powdering tips, your skin is sure to look less like a pancake and more like a perfectly dewy dumpling. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Why You Should Always Apply Setting Powder With a Small Brush," 9 Nov. 2018 Then the area under the curve of brand damage by short-sellers would be probably less than the short-term difficulty of going private in the first place. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Recode Decode," 2 Nov. 2018 Down comforters can be replaced less often than sheets or pillows. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Comforter," 14 Oct. 2018 Or if something temporary and less expensive is more your speed, snag a unicorn hair wig. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "These Are the Most Popular Halloween Costumes of 2018, According to Google," 16 Oct. 2018 But the mission team put the observatory to sleep less than a month later after noticing that Kepler's pointing ability had degraded. Mike Wall, Space.com, "NASA's Kepler Planet-Hunting Space Telescope Wakes Up Again," 13 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But that doesn't make the scar (and the fall that preceded it) any less of an emotional trauma. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Carrie Underwood Is Embracing Her Facial Scar With Rainbow Makeup and Glitter on Instagram," 8 Oct. 2018 The have-lesses would dig in and hope to sneak something on the break. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Mexico Stuns Germany in World Cup Opener," 17 June 2018 Sometimes burp-less is used as a marketing term for Asian varieties of cucumbers. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need To Know About Growing Crisp Cucumbers," 19 May 2017 Studying at home makes child care less of an obstacle and cuts out commuting time. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland.com, "Man found dead on East Side; plane slides off runway at Burke Lakefront: Overnight News Links," 4 Feb. 2018 The Giants were shut out for the first time 13 years at Arizona, pulse-less on offense. Peter King, SI.com, "Merry Christmas, NFC: The No. 1 Seed Eagles Suddenly Look Very Beatable," 26 Dec. 2017 Sleek and Brushed Back Another way to help to minimize the exposure of the scalp is to go part-less with a sleek, brushed back, wet look. Wendy Sy, Allure, "5 Hairstyles That Hide Dandruff Flakes," 24 Oct. 2017 But the segregation of cities into a small set of haves and a much larger set of have-lesses tends to mean that elites (in business and politics) rub elbows only with each other. The Economist, "Left in the lurchGlobalisation has marginalised many regions in the rich world," 21 Oct. 2017 Located on the less trampled east coast, the Four Seasons is part of the Anahita resort complex, which includes private residences and a golf course. Condé Nast Traveler, "Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita," 20 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition

Get ready for a lot less facial hair on your television. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Duck Dynasty Is Leaving Television After 11 Seasons on the Air," 17 Nov. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'less.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of less

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Preposition

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for less

Adjective

Middle English, partly from Old English lǣs, adverb & noun; partly from lǣssa, adjective; akin to Old Frisian lēs less

Adverb

see less entry 1

Noun

see less entry 1

Preposition

see less entry 1

Adjective suffix

Middle English -les, -lesse, from Old English -lēas, from lēas devoid, false; akin to Old High German lōs loose, Old English losian to get lost — more at lose

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Learn More about less

Dictionary Entries near less

lespedeza

Lesquerella

-less

less

lesse

lessee

lessen

Statistics for less

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for less

The first known use of less was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for less

less

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of less

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: not so much : smaller in amount or number

less

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of less (Entry 2 of 4)

: not so much : to a smaller extent or degree

English Language Learners Definition of less (Entry 3 of 4)

: after taking away or subtracting (something)

English Language Learners Definition of -less (Entry 4 of 4)

: not having something specified : without something

: never doing or becoming something specified

: not able to be acted on in a specified way

less

adjective
\ˈles \

Kids Definition of less

 (Entry 1 of 5)

comparative of little

1 : being fewer Less than ten people showed up.

2 : not so much : a smaller amount of We need less talk and more action.

less

adverb

Kids Definition of less (Entry 2 of 5)

comparative of little

: not so much or so well This quiz is less difficult than the last.

less

noun

Kids Definition of less (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a smaller number or amount They made do with less.

2 : something that is not as important You're lucky. I've been grounded for less.

Kids Definition of less (Entry 4 of 5)

: minus entry 1 sense 1 Your cost is the regular price less a discount.

\ləs\

Kids Definition of -less

1 : not having friendless

2 : not able to be acted on or to act in a specified way ceaseless

less, lesser

Medical Definition of less 

comparative of little

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More from Merriam-Webster on less

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with less

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for less

Spanish Central: Translation of less

Nglish: Translation of less for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of less for Arabic Speakers

Comments on less

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