\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \

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 surprisingwants to be driven to the airport, in a limousine no less



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


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

Antonyms: Adjective

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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 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 Harris, however, argued Wednesday that the prevalence of COVID-19 in Louisiana, as kids return to their classrooms, is one argument for more communication, not less. Della Hasselle, NOLA.com, "As classrooms reopen, only 389 Louisiana schools are enrolled in state coronavirus warning system," 9 Sep. 2020 The actual story of how science evolves results in inspiring more confidence in science, not less. Mano Singham, Scientific American, "The Idea that a Scientific Theory can be 'Falsified' Is a Myth," 7 Sep. 2020 The announcement showed that things will be more complicated, not less, as the season begins. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Iron Skillet rivalry game put on hold due to COVID-19 outbreak among TCU players and support staff," 4 Sep. 2020 And the total capacity was only slightly less than that reported for batteries that use a pure lithium-metal electrode. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Could “disordered rock salts” bring order to next-gen lithium batteries?," 4 Sep. 2020 Second, and more to the point, there is a strong case that the FDA should take politics into account more, not less. Tyler Cowen Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "Trump is winning the debate on vaccines," 3 Sep. 2020 Its first all-electric sedan is a polished, high-tech, legitimate alternative to the Tesla Model 3, but with slightly less range. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "The Polestar 2 is the First Non-Tesla Electric Car I’d Buy," 1 Sep. 2020 Murchison said that three months after the death of George Floyd, the world has become more, not less, racially stratified. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Stephon Clark: Charter Oak center puts faces to the names," 28 Aug. 2020 The change to the CDC guidelines was quickly denounced by public health experts, who say more, not less, testing is needed. Andrea Kane, CNN, "Are these fast, cheap coronavirus tests the game-changer everyone is waiting for?," 28 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Perhaps the idea of a militia coming to save good Americans from anti-fascists while their town burned down around them is meant to seem less insane with the actual horizon on fire. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "The Era of Disaster Militiaism in America," 15 Sep. 2020 Peterson, who worked on the original concept, is less diplomatic. John King, SFChronicle.com, "If Harry Potter and Fred Flintstone designed a building together, it might look like this," 15 Sep. 2020 Watkins is playing less at linebacker this season after he was made the featured back for Huntsville (2-1), which lost to Lamar before posting consecutive wins over Clinton and Lincoln. Rick Fires, Arkansas Online, "Rugged Watkins runs past Wolves," 15 Sep. 2020 Many Americans do not have a religious affiliation and therefore opt for a less formal service. Mark Evely, The Conversation, "When someone dies, what happens to the body?," 15 Sep. 2020 The legacy of slavery and discrimination has led to a wide gap in housing and wealth between white and Black families, forcing them to endure less-healthy living and working conditions than white people with similar incomes and education. Adam W. Gaffney, STAT, "Are lung function algorithms perpetuating health disparities experienced by Black people?," 15 Sep. 2020 In fact, in recent decades, the Senate has tended to be less populist and more pro-trade than the House. Daniel Griswold, National Review, "A Timely Defense of Free Trade," 15 Sep. 2020 The professor was denied financial research incentives and summer salary and was routinely given less prestigious assignments than younger female colleagues who were not Egyptian, according to court documents. Alia Malik, ExpressNews.com, "Fired chemical engineering professor sues UTSA in federal court," 15 Sep. 2020 Protests that feature women are typically larger, less violent, and more versatile than those that do not. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "When Women Lead Protest Movements," 12 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Jobless and benefit-less: What should COVID-19's economic victims do for health insurance? Shefali Luthra, Phil Galewitz And Rachel Bluth, USA TODAY, "'The pandemic is like a punch in the mouth': Medicaid faces new challenges amid US coronavirus outbreak," 3 Apr. 2020 Hassett warned that March job lesses could be among the worst on record. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Former White House economic adviser returns as economy tanks over coronavirus," 20 Mar. 2020 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 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


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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


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


1623, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for less

Adjective, Adverb, Noun, and Preposition

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

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

Time Traveler for less

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for less

Last Updated

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Less.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/less. Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for less

How to pronounce -less (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of less

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: not so much : smaller in amount or number



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
\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \

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.



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.



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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