WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
less /lɛs/USA pronunciation
adv., [a comparative of little with least as superlative.]WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
adj., [a compar. of little with least as superl.]
smaller in size, amount, degree, etc.:He has less money than before.
lower in consideration, rank, or importance:complained to no less a person than the mayor (= to no one ranking lower than the mayor).
fewer:There were less than ten speakers before me.
a smaller amount or quantity:She eats less every day.
something not as important:People have been imprisoned for less.
- to a smaller length, amount, or degree:a less-developed country.
- [much/still + ~] to say nothing of:I could barely pay for my own meal, much less hers.
- [with a negative word or phrase] in any way different; other:He's nothing less than a thief.
subtracting:a year less two days.
- Idiomsless and less, to a decreasing extent or degree:I see less and less of my sister these days.
- -less is attached to nouns to form adjectives with the meaning "without, not having (the thing or quality named by the noun)'':care + -less → careless; shame + -less → shameless
- -less is also attached to verbs to form adjectives with the meaning "that cannot be'' plus the -ed/en form of the verb;
or "that never'' plus the -s form of the verb:tire + -less → tireless (= that never tires); count + -less → countless (= that cannot be counted).
least /list/USA pronunciation
adj., [a superlative of] littlewithlessorlesser as comparative.
n. [uncountable; the + ~]
something that is least:Your little problem is the least of my worries right now.
[superl. of]little withless as compar. to the smallest extent, amount, or degree:That's the least important question of all.
- smallest in size, amount, degree, etc.;
lowest in amount:wasn't paying the least attention.
- at the lowest estimate or figure:We'll have to pay $500 at least to cover that damage.
- at any rate; in any case:At least she wasn't hurt.
- Idiomsnot in the least, not in the smallest degree:not worried in the least.
- to say the least, This expression is used to express the belief that a situation or circumstance is even worse than stated:The result will be terrible inflation, to say the least.
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
less /lɛs/ determiner
- the comparative of little: less sugar, less spirit than before
- (as pronoun; functioning as sing or plural): she has less than she needs, the less you eat, the less you want
- (usually preceded by no) lower in rank or importance: no less a man than the president, St James the Less
- less of ⇒ to a smaller extent or degree: we see less of John these days, less of a success than I'd hoped
- the comparative of little (sense 1): she walks less than she should, less quickly, less beautiful
Etymology: Old English lǣssa (adj), lǣs (adv, n)USAGE
- subtracting; minus: three weeks less a day
Less should not be confused with fewer. Less refers strictly only to quantity and not to number: there is less water than before. Fewer means smaller in number: there are fewer people than before
'less' also found in these entries: