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See also: less



From Middle English -les, -leas, from Old English -lēas (-less), from lēas (devoid of, loose from, false), from Proto-Germanic *lausaz (loose). (Not related to less, which derives from *laisiz, *laisizô.) Cognate with Scots -less, West Frisian -leas, Saterland Frisian -loos, Dutch -loos (-less), Low German -los, German los, -los, Swedish -lös, Icelandic -laus. More at lease (false).


  • IPA(key): /ləs/, /lɪs/
  • (file)



  1. Lacking (something); without (something). Added usually to a noun to form an adjective signifying a lack of that noun.
    • 2013 September-October, Henry Petroski, “The Evolution of Eyeglasses”, in American Scientist:
      The ability of a segment of a glass sphere to magnify whatever is placed before it was known around the year 1000, when the spherical segment was called a reading stone, essentially what today we might term a frameless magnifying glass or plain glass paperweight.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Adjectives formed using -less often form nouns by the addition of -ness (e.g. helplessness), but generally do not form nouns by the addition of other noun-forming endings.
  • A notable exception to the usual usage of this suffix is that doubtless is usually an adverb, rather than an adjective.



Derived terms[edit]