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

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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

Cooler and noticeably less humid weather will follow by Tuesday, taking up residence for much of next week. Tom Skilling, chicagotribune.com, "Warm and muggy through Monday, then comfortably cooler," 14 July 2018 The concept of a portable homemade crystal that eliminates bad energy and manifests positive energy is a lot less weird, and a lot less cult-y, than placing naked people in boxes to cure their ailments with orgasmic energy. refinery29.com, "Kylie Jenner, Crystals & Cults: Inside The Mysterious Orgonite Society," 13 July 2018 But when paired with a bolo tie and vintage jewelry the look is less Emily Dickinson and more chic cowboy. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "This New Brand Has Mastered Western Style," 13 July 2018 But as the risk of climate change grows, this will likely change, with the wealthy colonizing the higher, less flood-prone ground inland and especially in and around downtown. Richard Florida, WIRED, "Climate Change Will Force the Poor From Their Homes," 13 July 2018 Yet despite Armenia’s less nationalistic attitude toward toasting, the country preserved its toasting traditions through centuries of occupation. Benjamin Kemper, Smithsonian, "Raising a Glass to Armenia’s Elaborate Toasting Tradition," 13 July 2018 Her mom, who took the day off work to accompany her, was less understanding. Kathleen Pender, SFChronicle.com, "California DMV will expand Saturday hours to trim interminable waits," 13 July 2018 With fewer kids in the house and with a little more savings in their pockets, the Menors are starting to feel a little less financial pressure. Stephanie Walden, USA TODAY, "How to find balance and get your retirement plan back on track," 13 July 2018 Keeping all of the people happy all of the time is impossible, so said no less an authority than Abraham Lincoln, who was credited with using the thoughts and words of poet John Lydgate, to express that message. Editorial From The Aegis, The Aegis, "Some are unhappy [Editorial]," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The passionate reaction from the Montauk audience underscored the fact that her absences haven’t made her any less of a source of fascination and respect among her fans and the music industry. Adrienne Gaffney, Billboard, "19 Years After 'Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,' The Elusive Star Performs at Montauk's Surf Lodge," 28 Aug. 2017

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

See more words from the same 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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Comments on less

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