Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of less
Meaning of less by Wiktionary Dictionary



    Old English læs


    • IPA: /lɛs/, X-SAMPA: /lEs/
    • Rhymes: -ɛs


    less ( not comparable )

    1. To smaller extent
    2. In lower degree
      This is a less bad solution than I thought possible .


    • more


    less ( superlative least )

    1. ( now archaic except with numbers ) comparative form of little: more little; smaller. [from 11th c.]
    2. A smaller amount ( of ); not as much. [from 14th c.]
      I have less than you have .
      I have less tea than coffee .
    3. ( proscribed ) A smaller number of; fewer. [from 9th c.]

    Usage notes

    Some [1] 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:

    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. Compare læs .


    • more

    See also

    • fewer



    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 .


    • plus


    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



    By Wiktionary ( 2012/08/22 06:04 UTC Version )

    Alternative forms

    • ⠨⠎


    From Old English -lēas, from lēas ( “devoid of” ), from Proto-Germanic *lausaz. Not related to less, which derives from Proto-Germanic *laisiz, *laisizô. Cognate to German los, -los .



    1. Lacking ( something )

    Usage notes


    • -ed
    • -ful

    Derived terms

    [+] English words suffixed with -less

Explanation of less by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. used to form the comparative of some adjectives and adverbs

    2. less interesting
      less expensive
      less quickly
    3. comparative of little

    4. she walks less than she should
      he works less these days
    1. a quantifier meaning not as great in amount or degree

    2. of less importance
      less time to spend with the family
      a shower uses less water
      less than three years old
    3. fewer

    4. less than three weeks
      no less than 50 people attended
      in 25 words or less
    5. lower in quality

    6. no less than perfect

    Definition of less by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Less ( lĕs ), conj. Unless. [Obs.] B. Jonson.

    2. Less, a. [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, n.

      Thus in less [time] than a hundred years from the coming of Augustine, all England became Christian. E. A. Freeman.

    3. 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.”

    4. Less, n.
      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.

    5. Less, v. t. To make less; to lessen. [Obs.] Gower.