I. adjective, comparative of (I)little
Etymology: Middle English, partly from Old English lǣs, adverb & noun; partly from lǣssa, adjective; akin to Old Frisian lēs less
Date: before 12th century
1. constituting a more limited number or amount <less than three> <less than half done> 2. of lower rank, degree, or importance <no less a person than the president himself> 3. a. of reduced size, extent, or degree b. more limited in quantity <in less time> Usage: The traditional view is that less applies to matters of degree, value, or amount and modifies collective nouns, mass nouns, or nouns denoting an abstract whole while fewer applies to matters of number and modifies plural nouns. Less has been used to modify plural nouns since the days of King Alfred and the usage, though roundly decried, appears to be increasing. Less is more likely than fewer to modify plural nouns when distances, sums of money, and a few fixed phrases are involved <less than 100 miles> <an investment of less than $2000> <in 25 words or less> and as likely as fewer to modify periods of time <in less (or fewer) than four hours>. II. adverb, comparative of (II)little Date: before 12th century to a lesser extent or degree III. noun (plural less) Date: before 12th century 1. a smaller portion or quantity 2. something of less importance IV. preposition Date: 15th century diminished by ; minus
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.