See also: -less and LESS

English edit

 
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Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /lɛs/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛs

Etymology 1 edit

Adverb From Middle English les, lesse, leasse, lasse, from Old English lǣs (smaller, less), from Proto-Germanic *laisiz, from Proto-Indo-European *leys- (to shrink, grow thin, be gentle). Cognate with Old Frisian lēs (less), Old Saxon lēs (less).

Determiner and preposition from Middle English lees, lesse, leasse, lasse, from Old English lǣssa (less), from Proto-Germanic *laisizan-, from Proto-Germanic *laisiz (smaller, lesser, fewer, lower) (see above). Cognate with Old Frisian lessa (less).

Verb from Middle English lessen, from the determiner.

Noun from Middle English lesse, from the determiner.

Adverb edit

less (diminutive comparative)

  1. comparative degree of little
    I slept even less last night than I did the night before.
    I like him less each time I see him.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter VIII, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
      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.
  2. Used for constructing syntactic diminutive comparatives of adjectives and adverbs.
    Randal is less welcome than Rachel but as her spouse we should invite them both.
    This gadget is less useful than I expected.
    I'm not any less happy for being on my own.
    • 1957, Lester Del Rey, Rockets Through Space: The Story of Man's Preparations to Explore the Universe:
      This section of space is much less empty than that between the stars, []
    • 2012 November 7, Matt Bai, “Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds”, in New York Times[1]:
      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.
    • 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.
  3. To a smaller extent or degree.
    The grammar book was less than (that is, not at all) helpful.
    That this is a positive one makes it no less a stereotype, and therefore unacceptable.
Antonyms edit
Translations edit

Determiner edit

less

  1. (Now chiefly of numbers or dimensions) comparative form of little: more little; of inferior size, degree or extent; smaller, lesser. [from 11th c.]
    • 1624, John Smith, Generall Historie, Kupperman, published 1988, page 141:
      Those Rattels are somewhat like the chape of a Rapier, but lesse, which they take from the taile of a snake.
    • 1711, The Spectator, number 126:
      We are likewise ready to maintain with the hazard of all that is near and dear to us, that six is less than seven in all times and all places [] .
    • 1885, Edward James Reed, A Treatise on the Stability of Ships:
      It is also easy to see that the straight line, representing the locus of centres of buoyancy for a rectangular section, must lie at a less inclination to the base (i.e., to the horizontal) than a line representing the locus of such centres for a parabolic section []
  2. A smaller amount of; not as much. [from 12th c.]
    No less than eight pints of beer.
    I have less tea than coffee.
    You have even less sense than an inanimate object.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, pages 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.
  3. (example, proscribed) Fewer; a smaller number of. [from 14th c.]
    There are less people here now.
    Now there are three less green bottles hanging on the wall.
    • 1681, John Houghton, A Collection For the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, page 263:
      ... on his land he will have less manure, less corn, and less people; ...
    • 1952 September 7, Thomas M Pryor, New York Times:
      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 R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings, Bantam, published 2011, page 555:
      No less than four standard-bearers went before them, carrying huge crimson banners emblazoned with the golden lion.
    • 2003 December 16, Timandra Harkness, The Guardian:
      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 edit

Some[*] regard the use of the determiner less with countable quantities to be incorrect, stating that less should indicate only a reduction in uncountable quantity, or in size or significance, leaving fewer to indicate a smaller numerical quantity. For example, they suggest saying less sugar, but fewer people, not less people. Such a rule can allow distinctions such as:

  • 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."

Nevertheless, less has been widely understood and commonly used as a synonym for fewer since it first appeared in Old English as læs.

Antonyms edit
Translations edit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
See also edit

Preposition edit

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 edit
Translations edit

Verb edit

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

  1. (archaic) To make less; to lessen.
    • 1386-90, Gower, Confessio Amantis
      What he will make lesse, he lesseth.
    • c. 1650, Patrick Gordon of Ruthven, A short Abridgement of Britane's Distemper, from the yeares of God 1639 to 1649, printed 1844 for the Spalding Club
      Som of the wiser sort, divining upon this vission, attrebute to the pen-knyves the lenth of tym before this should com to pass, and it hath been observed by sindrie that the earles of that hous befor wer the richest in the kingdom, having treasure and store besyde them, but ever since the addittion of this so great a revenue, they have lessed the stock by heavie burdens of debt and ingagment.
    • 1816, "Joseph Wharton" [obituary notice], Poulson's Advertiser, quoted in Genealogy of the Wharton Family of Philadelphia: 1664 to 1880, Anne Hollingsworth Wharton (1880)
      The protracted term of life, and the lingering illness through which this gentleman had passed, had neither impaired the original vigour of his mind, nor lessed the uncommon warmth of his affections.
    • 1852, Charles Heavysege, The revolt of Tartarus, a poem, page 116:
      Soon as I lessed the tree of this, it waned — Less cause, gave less effect
    • 1886, Horace Eaton Walker, The Lady of Dardale and Other Poems, page 74:
      The scattered beauties thro' the air, Have lessed the woe, the dread, the care;
Derived terms edit
Translations edit

Adjective edit

less (not comparable)

  1. (archaic) Lesser; smaller.
    • 1854 August 9, Henry D[avid] Thoreau, “Economy”, in Walden; or, Life in the Woods, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, →OCLC:
      Such too, to a greater or less extent, is the condition of the operatives of every denomination in England, which is the great workhouse of the world.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped:
      This he said, thinking that Alan would be pleased; but the Highlandman’s vanity was ready to startle at a less matter than that.

Noun edit

less (uncountable)

  1. A smaller amount or quantity.
    Less is better.
    I have less to do today than yesterday.

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle English lesse, les, from Old English lǣs, as in þȳ lǣs þe.

Conjunction edit

less

  1. (dialectal, nonstandard) unless

References edit

Anagrams edit

Hungarian edit

Etymology edit

les +‎ -j

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

less

  1. second-person singular subjunctive present indefinite of les

Lombard edit

Etymology edit

From Latin elixus. Compare Italian lesso (boiled meat).

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

less m (invariable)

  1. boiled meat

Norwegian Bokmål edit

Etymology 1 edit

From Old Norse látast. Cognate with Swedish låtsas.

Verb edit

less (present tense less, past tense less)

  1. to pretend (to be)

Etymology 2 edit

Verb edit

less

  1. imperative of lesse

References edit

Norwegian Nynorsk edit

Etymology 1 edit

Verb edit

less

  1. imperative of lessa

Etymology 2 edit

Verb edit

less

  1. (non-standard since 2012) past tense of låss

Old Irish edit

Etymology 1 edit

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

less m (genitive lesso)

  1. benefit, advantage
Declension edit
Masculine u-stem
Singular Dual Plural
Nominative less lessL lessaeH
Vocative less lessL lessu
Accusative lessN lessL lessu
Genitive lessoH, lessaH lessoL, lessaL lessaeN
Dative lessL lessaib lessaib
Initial mutations of a following adjective:
  • H = triggers aspiration
  • L = triggers lenition
  • N = triggers nasalization
Alternative forms edit
Derived terms edit
Descendants edit
  • Irish: leas
  • Manx: lhiass
  • Scottish Gaelic: leas

Further reading edit

Etymology 2 edit

Pronunciation edit

Pronoun edit

less

  1. Alternative spelling of les (third-person singular masculine of la)

Mutation edit

Old Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Nasalization
less
also lless after a proclitic
less
pronounced with /l(ʲ)-/
unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Polish edit

 
Polish Wikipedia has an article on:
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Etymology edit

Borrowed from German Löss.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

less m inan

  1. (geology) loess

Declension edit

Derived terms edit

adjective

Further reading edit

  • less in Wielki słownik języka polskiego, Instytut Języka Polskiego PAN
  • less in Polish dictionaries at PWN

Swedish edit

Etymology edit

Clipping of lessen, pronunciation spelling of ledsen (sad), alternatively interpreted as a pronunciation spelling of a clipping of ledsen.

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

less (comparative mer less, superlative mest less)

  1. tired (of something irritating)
    Jag är less på hans jävla tjat!
    I'm tired of his god damn nagging!

Declension edit

Only used predicatively with the common gender singular. The comparative form lessare and superlative lessast exist but are considered nonstandard, so this word is mostly compared periphrastically.

References edit