Definify.com

Webster 1913 Edition


Less

Less

(lĕs)
,
c
onj.
Unless.
[Obs.]
B. Jonson.

Less

,
Adj.
[OE.
lesse
, AS.
lǣssa
; akin to OFries.
lēssa
; a compar. from a lost positive form. Cf.
Lesser
,
Lest
,
Least
.
Less
has the sense of the comparative degree of
little
.]
Smaller; not so large or great; not so much; shorter; inferior;
as, a
less
quantity or number; a horse of
less
size or value; in
less
time than before.
☞ The substantive which less qualifies is often omitted; as, the purse contained less (money) than ten dollars. See
Less
,
Noun.
Thus in
less
[time] than a hundred years from the coming of Augustine, all England became Christian.
E. A. Freeman.

Less

,
adv.
[AS.
lǣs
. See
Less
,
Adj.
, and cf.
Lest
.]
Not so much; in a smaller or lower degree;
as,
less
bright or loud;
less
beautiful.

Less

,
Noun.
1.
A smaller portion or quantity.
The children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some
less
.
Ex. xvi. 17.
2.
The inferior, younger, or smaller.
The
less
is blessed of the better.
Heb. vii. 7.

Less

,
Verb.
T.
To make less; to lessen.
[Obs.]
Gower.

Webster 1828 Edition


Less

LESS

, for unless. [Not in use.]

LESS

, A terminating syllable of many nouns and some adjectives. Hence it is a privative word, denoting destitution; as a witless man, a man destitute of wit; childless, without children; fatherless; faithless; penniless; lawless, &c.

LESS

,
Adj.
Smaller; not so large or great; as a less quantity or number; a horse of less size or value. We are all destined to suffer affliction in a greater or less degree.

LESS

,
adv.
Not so much; in a smaller or lower degree; as less bright or loud; less beautiful; less obliging; less careful. The less a man praises himself, the more disposed are others to praise him.

LESS

,
Noun.
1.
Not so much.
They gathered some more, some less. Ex. 16.
2.
An inferior.
The less is blessed by the better. Heb. 7.

LESS

,
Verb.
T.
To make less. [Not in use.]

Definition 2022


less

less

See also: -less

English

Adverb

less (not comparable)

  1. To a smaller extent.
    • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
      In plants, the ability to recognize self from nonself plays an important role in fertilization, because self-fertilization will result in less diverse offspring than fertilization with pollen from another individual.
  2. In lower degree.
    This is a less bad solution than I thought possible.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
      I corralled the judge, and we started off across the fields, in no very mild state of fear of that gentleman's wife, whose vigilance was seldom relaxed. And thus we came by a circuitous route to Mohair, the judge occupied by his own guilty thoughts, and I by others not less disturbing.
    • 2012 November 7, Matt Bai, “Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds”, in New York Times:
      That brief moment after the election four years ago, when many Americans thought Mr. Obama’s election would presage a new, less fractious political era, now seems very much a thing of the past.

Antonyms

Translations

Adjective

less (superlative least)

  1. (now archaic except with numbers) comparative form of little: more little; smaller. [from 11th c.]
    • 1624, John Smith, Generall Historie, in Kupperman 1988, page 141:
      Those Rattels are somewhat like the chape of a Rapier, but lesse [...].
  2. A smaller amount (of); not as much. [from 14th c.]
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7:
      Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
    I have less than you have.  I have less tea than coffee.
  3. (proscribed) A smaller number of; fewer. [from 9th c.]
    • 1952, Thomas M Pryor, New York Times, 7 Sep 1952:
      This is not a happy situation as far as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes is concerned because it means less jobs for the union's members here at home.
    • 1999, George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings, Bantam 2011, page 555:
      No less than four standard-bearers went before them, carrying huge crimson banners emblazoned with the golden lion.
    • 2003, Timandra Harkness, The Guardian, 16 Dec 2003:
      Although my hosts, G S Aviation, can teach you to fly in Wiltshire, an intensive week at their French airfield means less problems with the weather, cheap but good living, and complete removal from any distractions.

Usage notes

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 læs.

Antonyms

Translations

See also

Preposition

less

  1. 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.

Antonyms

Translations

Verb

less (third-person singular simple present lesses, present participle lessing, simple past and past participle lessed)

  1. (obsolete) To make less; to lessen.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Gower to this entry?)

Derived terms

Conjunction

less

  1. (obsolete) unless
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: used · began · thy · #254: less · till · next · poor

Hungarian

Etymology

les + -j

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): [ˈlɛʃː]
  • Hyphenation: less

Verb

less

  1. second-person singular subjunctive present indefinite of les

Lombard

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˈlɛsː/

Noun

less m (invariable)

  1. boiled meat

Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˈlɛsː/

Noun

less m inan

  1. loess

Declension

Derived terms

  • lessowy