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1. Without; lacking: blameless.
2. Unable to act or be acted on in a specified way: dauntless.
[Middle English -lesse, from Old English -lēas, from lēas, without; see leu- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
suffix forming adjectives
1. without; lacking: speechless.
2. not able to (do something) or not able to be (done, performed, etc): countless.
[Old English -lās, from lēas lacking]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
adv. a compar. of little with least as superl.
1. to a smaller extent, amount, or degree: less exact.
2. most certainly not (often prec. by much or still): I could barely pay for my own meal, much less for hers.
3. in any way different; other: He's nothing less than a thief.adj.
4. smaller in size, amount, degree, etc.; not so large, great, or much: less money; less speed.
5. lower in consideration, rank, or importance: no less a person than the mayor.
6. fewer: less than ten.n. a compar. of little with least as superl.
7. a smaller amount or quantity: She eats less every day.
8. something inferior or not as important: People have been imprisoned for less.prep.
9. minus; without: a year less two days.Idioms:
less and less, to a decreasing extent or degree.
[before 900; Middle English; Old English lǣs (adv.), lǣssa (adj.), c. Old Frisian lēs (adv.), lēssa (adj.). See least]
usage: Many usage guides say that fewer should be used before plural nouns specifying individuals or distinguishable units: fewer words; no fewer than 31 of the 50 states. less, the guides maintain, should modify only singular mass nouns (less sugar; less money) and singular abstract nouns (less doubt; less power). It should modify plural nouns only when they suggest combination into a unit, group, or aggregation: less than $50 (a sum of money); less than three miles (a unit of distance). Standard English practice does not consistently reflect these distinctions. The use of less or less than where usage guides recommend fewer (than) is common in most varieties of English: less than eight million people; no less than 31 of the 50 states; We did more work with less people. Though these uses are often criticized, they appear to be increasing in frequency.
an adjective-forming suffix meaning “without,” “not having” that specified by the noun base (careless; shameless); added to verbs, it is equivalent to “un-” plus the present participle of the verb, or “un-” plus the verb plus “-able” (quenchless; tireless).
[Middle English -les, Old English -lēas, suffixal use of lēas free from, without, false, c. Old Saxon, Old High German lōs, Old Norse lauss; compare loose]
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