Definition of less in US English:


pronoun & determiner

  • 1A smaller amount of; not as much.

    as determiner ‘the less time spent there, the better’
    as pronoun ‘storage is less of a problem than it used to be’
    ‘ready in less than an hour’
    • ‘Government is taking less of the national wealth than any time since 1974.’
    • ‘You are entitled to the full amount if your annual income is less than £18,900.’
    • ‘About this we need to ask, would we want to do less of it in order to save money to be spent elsewhere?’
    • ‘Never had he accepted anything less than what he wanted, not even then.’
    • ‘Also, they frequently carry outrageously high charges, so less of your money goes to work on day one.’
    • ‘The main problem is that they tend to charge a lot more and that leaves less of your money going into investments.’
    • ‘Full-face masks also reduce the amount of heat loss, because less of the head is exposed.’
    • ‘I think there's a lot less of that sort of thing now than there used to be.’
    • ‘I appreciate trying to save money and being less of a consumer and all those other good things.’
    • ‘Being too cautious could mean that you invest less of your money in shares and keep more in cash.’
    • ‘The applicant's income was less than that of the respondent but still significant.’
    • ‘I woke up with less of a headache than I head yesterday, which is good.’
    • ‘She will be no less protected on the floor below and she will be less of a hassle for you.’
    • ‘So, the lower the charges, the less of your money is gobbled up and the better chance you have of matching the market.’
    • ‘They want more of acting and less of dancing on the slopes of Switzerland.’
    • ‘They come out three months later than their UK counterparts, but that is markedly less of a gap than previously.’
    • ‘They also backed simple measures to remind people about their appointments, so less of doctors' time was wasted.’
    • ‘If he devoted less of his time to goading opposition supporters then perhaps he would not be the most hated man in Scottish football.’
    • ‘Urban and rural membership will be less of a fault-line than male and female.’
    • ‘I shall be watching most of the track athletics, some of the swimming, some of the sailing and even less of the gymnastics.’
    not so much, not so great, smaller, slighter, shorter, reduced
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Fewer in number.
      as pronoun ‘a population of less than 200,000’
      • ‘In most cases fast greens present less problems when drawing around a blocking bowl.’
      • ‘Yes, but it would present less difficulties once it is acknowledged that the writ is almost as of right.’
      • ‘It can be shown for example that there were less that 5000 men present but this is not of any importance.’
      a smaller amount
      View synonyms


  • Of lower rank or importance.

    ‘James the Less’


  • 1To a smaller extent; not so much.

    ‘that this is a positive stereotype makes it no less a stereotype’
    ‘he listened less to the answer than to Kate's voice’
    • ‘As we focus on that, what happens to the institution becomes less important.’
    • ‘I look up and see he is wearing rather academic spectacles, which makes him look slightly less threatening.’
    • ‘That is part of the answer, but a less important part than the nature of the new legislation.’
    • ‘I think labels are less important than practical solutions to fund museums.’
    • ‘Punitive and other reactions were considerably less common.’
    • ‘What I am trying to say is that the end result makes the platform choice less important.’
    • ‘Suddenly the whole prospect seems considerably less appealing.’
    • ‘Alcohol use disorders are considerably less common in this age range than they are among younger individuals.’
    • ‘The story itself appears less important than the manner in which it has been told.’
    • ‘Well, now that we have broadband, the ability to load pages without images has become a lot less important.’
    • ‘It's less important that they suffer than we're made to look stupid.’
    • ‘Lower leaves often turn yellow as the plant begins to head and become less important.’
    • ‘Small HDL particles are much less effective at soaking up their bad brethren.’
    • ‘It is said that this kind of convention is getting less important in modern China.’
    • ‘At first, the design of the network will seem less important than the content that is moved over it.’
    • ‘One apparently almost universal discriminatory practice was to pay women less than men.’
    • ‘In reality, the factors that caused the war are far less important than its consequences.’
    • ‘To some extent the presence or absence of fine writing is even less important to me here than it is with people journals.’
    • ‘Sometimes the vanity is so strong that the health or even the life of the kids becomes less important.’
    • ‘The same trend applies, albeit to a less impressive extent, in the abbreviated format.’
    to a lesser degree, to a smaller extent, not so much, not as much
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1less than Far from; certainly not.
      ‘Mitch looked less than happy’
      ‘the data was less than ideal’
      • ‘Due to poor promotion a less than adequate turnout was achieved.’
      • ‘Graham was less than pleased.’
      • ‘The examination she was put through was less than thorough’
      • ‘There was some constant fuzz on the track, so the clarity was less than perfect.’
      • ‘David seemed less than delighted with the new situation.’


  • Before subtracting (something); minus.

    ‘$900,000 less tax’
    minus, subtracting, excepting, without, lacking
    View synonyms


In standard English, less should be used only with uncountable things (less money; less time). With countable things, it is incorrect to use less: thus, less people and less words should be corrected to fewer people and fewer words. See also few


  • less and less

    • At a continually decreasing rate.

      • ‘I just wonder why he has been replying less and less to my attempts to contact him.’
      • ‘America is sliding toward a firmer belief in the inequality of men and believes less and less in the unity of the human species.’
      • ‘The chance of people learning by experience gets less and less as the jobs become few and far between.’
      • ‘I like to see people talking on the streets but you see it less and less.’
      • ‘Virtually everything this man does these days makes me respect him less and less.’
      • ‘This is happening less and less, though the laid-back Holmes claims he never got uptight about it.’
      • ‘Gradually, the regular rugby writers have come to realise that, and they talk to me less and less.’
      • ‘We live in an age of exploding information, but we act less and less on what we hear.’
      • ‘Those interesting searches seem to be coming less and less now than they did before.’
      • ‘The couple had been seen less and less because of their health problems.’
  • less is more

    • Used to express the view that a minimalist approach to artistic or aesthetic matters is more effective.

      • ‘Less is more for some of your favorite stars.’
      • ‘This is arguably a case where less is more.’
      • ‘Concerned with characters more than special effects, Fawcett has succeeded in creating a film where less is more.’
      • ‘Well I think in many cases less is more.’
      • ‘My idea of sexy is that less is more.’
      • ‘Remember you can still look sexy without revealing all your goods; less is more!’
      • ‘One of the lessons for the market is " less is more ".’
      • ‘The structure is exposed to demonstrate that less is more.’
      • ‘You could sum the site up by saying less is more.’
      • ‘Indeed, the majority of the evidence still suggests that in the care of patients with low back pain, less is more.’
  • much (or still) less

    • Used to introduce something as being even less likely or suitable than something else already mentioned.

      ‘what woman would consider a date with him, much less a marriage?’
      • ‘Lynch does not mention a battle, still less a location for one.’
      • ‘This is likely to be still less problematic for nonmammalian vertebrates.’
      • ‘In poor countries with under-resourced police departments, enforcement is still less likely.’
      • ‘She does not acknowledge the tremendous task she has already embarked upon, still less what she has achieved.’
      • ‘Men are possibly more likely to be unwilling to report it, and are much less likely to be believed if they do.’
      • ‘I do not say that the Mirror could have known that a specific ‘reprisal’ would take place, still less that they wanted it to.’
      • ‘The Green Paper does not even mention this issue, still less propose change.’
      • ‘It is not about punishing councils, still less about forcing them to fund people who wait for services that are not their responsibility.’
      • ‘This is understandable enough - but the idea that the former should find it surprising, still less offensive, is anything but.’
      • ‘By 1867, this had become highly improbable, and still less likely by 1870.’
  • no less

    • 1Used to suggest, often ironically, that something is surprising or impressive.

      ‘Peter cooked dinner—fillet steak and champagne, no less’
      • ‘I justify my call with reference to the philosophy of a former Warden of Wadham, no less.’
      • ‘Day three took us to a site no less impressive, aptly named Mysterious Lagoon.’
      • ‘Our route took us to the village of West Lilling and involved a climb to 100 feet no less.’
      • ‘It felt like aeons before she said we were on, and then furnished us with VIP passes no less!’
      • ‘Impending parenthood is a fertile time for dreams, no less for fathers than for mothers.’
      • ‘Having scooped a major award, covered by the Times no less, neither paper has said a thing about this!’
      • ‘Among the many highlights of the Craft Fair will be the arrival of Santa by boat no less.’
      • ‘So it wants a legal framework to bring about the industrialisation of drug production, no less.’
      1. 1.1Used to emphasize a surprisingly large amount.
        • ‘On Easter Sunday there are no less than three helpings of jazz in York.’
        • ‘That song was picked up by Chris Evans and played no less than three times on his radio show in one sitting.’
        • ‘After all, in their case, the plate on their car could amount to no less than one third of the price of the car.’
        • ‘A decade later there were no less than four churches, as well as a public school and post office.’
        • ‘Another city drawing inspiration from the past is Coventry, with no less than 26 twins.’
        • ‘Within two days of the departure of Davies, Nevin had written no less than 33 names into his notepad.’
        • ‘A global race is under way as no less than four separate research teams compete to make archaeological history.’
        • ‘During his long association with the club, Parkes performed the role on no less than six separate occasions.’
        • ‘If you include the doll made in his likeness, there are no less than six incarnations of Pekar in the film.’
        • ‘That test has been applied in this Court on no less than eight subsequent occasions.’
        at the minimum, no less than, not less than
        View synonyms
  • in less than no time

    • informal Very quickly or soon.

      • ‘As a result of this, you can have healthy cuticles in less than no time!’
      • ‘Follow the road east or west to reach historic towns, eclectic fishing villages and flume crazy waterparks in less than no time.’
      • ‘The light filtering between the boards wakens me up, and in less than no time I go and test the light switch.’
      • ‘There was no time to parley, so I climbed a tree in less than no time, and had presence of mind to take my gun with me.’


Old English lǣssa, of Germanic origin; related to Old Frisian lēssa, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek loisthos ‘last’.