from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- adj. Not as great in amount or quantity: had less time to spend with the family.
- adj. Lower in importance, esteem, or rank: no less a person than the ambassador.
- adj. Consisting of a smaller number. See Usage Note at few.
- prep. With the deduction of; minus: Five less two is three.
- adv. To a smaller extent, degree, or frequency: less happy; less expensive.
- n. A smaller amount: She received less than she asked for.
- n. Something not as important as something else: People have been punished for less.
- idiom less than Not at all: He had a less than favorable view of the matter.
- idiom much Certainly not: I'm not blaming anyone, much less you.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adv. To smaller extent
- adv. In lower degree
- prep. Minus; not including
- v. To make less; to lessen.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- conj. Unless.
- adj. Smaller; not so large or great; not so much; shorter; inferior
- adv. Not so much; in a smaller or lower degree
- n. A smaller portion or quantity.
- n. The inferior, younger, or smaller.
- transitive v. To make less; to lessen.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Not so much or so large; of smaller quantity, amount, bulk, or capacity; inferior in dimensions, extent, or duration: as, less honor or reward; less profit or possessions; less time; less distance; less scope or range; the reward is less than he deserves; a man of less courage or ability; an article of less, weight or value.
- Not so great, considerable, or important; of smaller scope or consequence; lower in the scale: as, St. James the Less; his honors are less than his deserts.
- Synonyms Smaller, Less, Fewer. Smaller is rather more exact than less, but is used freely of persons and of things both concrete and abstract: as, a smaller man, soul, size. Less is not used of persons: as, less trouble, happiness, size, degree; less of an evil. With reference to size and number, the proper words are smaller and fewer. “This apple is less than that,” “There were less people there than I expected,” are inelegant and erroneous, although similar expressions are often used both in speech and in writing. While the latter, however, is in excusable, the former may be used sparingly without offense in certain collocations, especially in poetry. The allusion to the mustard-seed in Mark iv. 31 appears to be the only example in the Bible of the use of less in the sense of ‘smaller in size.’ In Shakspere's plays the word occurs more than two hundred times, and in Milton's poems more than a hundred; in the former it is used only four or five times and in the latter three times in the sense of ‘smaller in size,’ and never in that of ‘fewer.’
- In a smaller or lower degree; to an inferior extent, amount, etc.; in a decreased or abated way or manner: as, less prudent; less carefully executed; to exaggerate less; to think less of a person.
- To make less; lessen.
- To become less; lessen.
- A common English suffix forming, from nouns, adjectives meaning ‘without’ (lacking, wanting, void of, destitute of) the thing or quality denoted by the noun: as. childless, without a child; fatherless, without a father; endless, without end; hopeless, without hope; leafless, without leaves; shameless, without shame; so motherless, penniless, faithless, godless, graceless, lawless, witless, remediless, tasteless, etc.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- adj. (nonstandard in some uses but often idiomatic with measure phrases) fewer
- adv. comparative of little
- adj. (comparative of `little' usually used with mass nouns) a quantifier meaning not as great in amount or degree
- adv. used to form the comparative of some adjectives and adverbs
- adj. (usually preceded by `no') lower in quality
Middle English lesse, from Old English lǣssa (adj.) and lǣs (adv.); see leis-2 in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English læs (Wiktionary)