- The definition of less is not as much.
An example of less used as an adjective is in the sentence, "She has less money than he does," which means that she does not have as much money as he does.
- Less is defined as to a smaller degree or amount.
An example of less used as an adverb is in the sentence, "The shrimp is less tasty than the crab," which means that the crab tastes better.
- Less means a smaller amount or something not as important.
An example of less used as a noun is in the sentence, "She used less than he did," which means she used a smaller amount that he did.
- Less is defined as minus.
An example of less used as a preposition is in the sentence, "Ten less seven is three," which means ten minus seven is three.
- alt. compar. of little
- not so much; smaller in size or amount: to drink less milk, take less time
- fewer: in less than 25 words
Origin of lessMiddle English les from Old English læs, adv. læssa, adjective (used as comparative of lytel, little), akin to Old Frisian les from Indo-European an unverified form leis- from base an unverified form lei-, to diminish, meager from source little
- compar. of little
- to a smaller extent: less likely to succeed
less and less
no less than
- without, lacking: pitiless, valueless
- not able or apt to: relentless, tireless, reckless
- not able or apt to be ____ed: dauntless
Origin of -lessMiddle English -les, -leas from Old English -leas from leas, free, loose, akin to losian, lose
adjectiveA comparative of little
- Not as great in amount or quantity: had less time to spend with the family.
- Lower in importance, esteem, or rank: no less a person than the ambassador.
- Consisting of a smaller number.
adverbComparative of little
- A smaller amount: She received less than she asked for.
- Something not as important as something else: People have been punished for less.
Origin of lessMiddle English lesse from Old English lǣssa ( adj. ) lǣs ( adv. ); see leis-2 in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: The traditional rule holds that fewer should be used for things that can be counted ( fewer than four players ), while less should be used with mass nouns for things of measurable extent ( less paper; less than a gallon of paint ). The Usage Panel largely supports the traditional rule. In our 2006 survey, only five percent accepted the sentence There are less crowds at the mall these days, while 28 percent accepted the following sentence, in which less is contrasted with more : The region needs more jobs, not less jobs. The Panel was a little more accepting (but still not in favor) of the familiar supermarket usage The express lane is reserved for shoppers with 10 or less items. The traditional rule is often hard to follow in practice, however, in part because plural nouns and mass nouns are similar in being divisible and in lacking distinct boundaries. For this reason, plurals and mass nouns are used in many of the same ways. Both can be used without determiners ( I like apples, I like applesauce ), and they both can take certain quantifiers like some and more ( more apples, more applesauce ). Less falls in the same class as some and more and is used in some well-established constructions where fewer would occur if the traditional rule were applied. Less than can be used before a plural noun that denotes a measure of time, amount, or distance: less than three weeks; less than $400; less than 50 miles. Less is sometimes used with plural nouns in the expressions no less than (as in No less than 30 of his colleagues signed the letter ) and or less (as in Give your reasons in 25 words or less ). And the approximator more or less is normally used after plural nouns as well as mass nouns: I have two dozen apples, more or less. To use fewer in such constructions sounds fastidious, so writers who follow the traditional rule should do so with caution.
- Without; lacking: blameless.
- Unable to act or be acted on in a specified way: dauntless.
Origin of -lessMiddle English -lesse from Old English -lēas from lēas without ; see leu- in Indo-European roots.
- To smaller extent.
- In lower degree.
- This is a less bad solution than I thought possible.
Some regard the use of the determiner less with quantities to be incorrect, stating that less should indicate only a reduction in size or significance, leaving fewer to indicate a smaller quantity:
- Their troubles are fewer than ours, meaning "Their troubles are not so numerous as ours."
- Their troubles are less than ours, meaning "Their troubles are not so great as ours."
In typical usage this distinction is absent, and less has been widely understood and commonly used as a synonym for fewer since it first appeared in Old English as lÃ¦s.
- Minus; not including
- It should then tax all of that as personal income, less the proportion of the car's annual mileage demonstrably clocked up on company business.
(third-person singular simple present lesses, present participle lessing, simple past and past participle lessed)
- (obsolete) To make less; to lessen.
- (obsolete) unless
From Middle English, from Old English lÃ¦s, from Proto-Germanic *laisiz.
- Adjectives formed using -less often form nouns by the addition of -ness (-lessness), but generally do not form nouns by the addition of other noun-forming endings. The suffix -lessness means "absence".