\ 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 There are several Senate races — including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan, and Montana — where at least one recent poll found the candidates separated by two points or less. Jon Walker, TheWeek, "How rain could decide the Senate and the fate of a Biden presidency," 20 Oct. 2020 Harvard University is joining other colleges and higher-education groups in opposing another federal proposal aimed at foreign students, this one limiting the length of stay at U.S. schools to four years or less. Janet Lorin, Bloomberg.com, "Harvard Opposes U.S. Plan to Limit Stay of Foreign Students," 19 Oct. 2020 The data has been even better in Orleans Parish, where tests have come back positive at a rate of 2.5% or less on all 14 days. Jeff Asher, NOLA.com, "Jeff Asher: Amid national resurgence of coronavirus, Louisiana can be proud of 'fragile' progress," 19 Oct. 2020 The map shows the name of every open polling place, and next to it a traffic light—green for wait of 20 minutes or less; yellow for waits up to 50 minutes; red for waits of 51 minutes and more. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "How a Texas county is handling record voting turnout during a pandemic," 17 Oct. 2020 Even for Mexico, a country often inured to the unrelenting violence and corruption that have gripped it for years, the arrest was nothing less than extraordinary, piercing the veil of invincibility that the nation’s armed forces have long enjoyed. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Who Was ‘El Padrino,’ Godfather to Drug Cartel? Mexico’s Defense Chief, U.S. Says," 16 Oct. 2020 Nothing less than careful planning and prioritization was required to balance the sprawling network of competing interests in soccer, to ensure the health of the game both on the field and on the balance sheet. Star Tribune, "Soccer Insider: Pandemic response has been reckless, costly," 16 Oct. 2020 Antigen tests or rapid tests can provide results in an hour or less. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, "What is a false positive COVID-19 test?," 16 Oct. 2020 Nearly all of those conservatives hung on, though all 12 races were decided by 10 points or less. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Spending in 12 key Texas U.S. House races is up 250% from 2016. Who has this ‘crazy money’?," 16 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb As other automakers introduce electric vehicles, credit sales will become less valuable. Russ Mitchell Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Tesla scores a profit for the fifth straight quarter," 21 Oct. 2020 The others -- Yicai Global, Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, and the Beijing Review -- are less widely known. Bloomberg.com, "U.S. Escalates China Tensions With Further Media Restrictions," 21 Oct. 2020 His trail of fiascos this time is a little more limited but no less damning. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "Review: Borat is back, and this time he fits right in," 21 Oct. 2020 Working from home is far less lonely with two dogs sitting on top of you. Abigail Rosenthal, Chron, "11 things I hope stick around even once the coronavirus pandemic is but a memory," 21 Oct. 2020 Buyers are less willing to pay a premium these days to live near Manhattan’s offices and amenities, said John Walkup, UrbanDigs’s co-founder. Nicole Friedman, WSJ, "Brooklyn Home Demand Bounces Back as Buyers Look Beyond Manhattan," 21 Oct. 2020 So the bad news is that kids are playing less, and some kids are thinking of staying on the sidelines. Washington Post, "Youth sports take a punch from the pandemic," 21 Oct. 2020 Other frustrated customers have taken more practical, and less violent, action after being spurned by unavailable McFlurries. James Leggate, Fox News, "Kansas McDonald’s customer threatens employee with gun over milkshake dispute," 21 Oct. 2020 His trail of fiascos this time is a little more limited but no less damning. Jake Coyle, chicagotribune.com, "Review: Borat is back, and this time he fits right in," 21 Oct. 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

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Less.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/less. Accessed 26 Oct. 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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