Dictionary: LESS – LE-THAL'I-TY

a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | w | x | y | z |


LESS, a. [Sax. læs; perhaps allied to Dan. liser, to abate, to lessen, to relieve, to case. Less has the sense of the comparative degree of little.]

Smaller; not so large or great; as, a less quantity or number; of less size or value. We are all destined to suffer in a greater or less degree.

LESS, adv.

Not so much; in a smaller or lower degree; as, less bright or loud; less beautiful; less obliging; less careful. The less a man praises himself, the more disposed are others to praise him.

LESS, n.

  1. Not so much. They gathered some more, some less. Exod. xvi.
  2. An inferior. The less is blessed by the better. – Heb. vii.

LESS, prep. [for Unless.]

[Not in use.]

LESS, v.

A terminating syllable of many nouns and some adjectives, is the Sax. leas, Goth. laus, belonging to the verb lysan, lausyan, to loose, free, separate. Hence it is a privative word, denoting destitution; as, a witless man, a man destitute of wit; childless, without children; fatherless; faithless; pennyless; lawless, &c.

LESS, v.t.

To make less. [Not in use.] – Gower.

LES-SEE', n. [from lease.]

The person to whom a lease is given, or who takes an estate by lease. – Blackstone.

LESS'EN, v.i. [les'n.]

  1. To become less; to shrink; to contract in bulk, quantity, number or amount; to be diminished. The apparent magnitude of objects lessens as we recede from them.
  2. To become less in degree, quality or intensity; to decrease. The strength of the body, and the vivacity of the temper usually lessen as we advance in age.

LESS'EN, v.t. [les'n. from less.]

  1. To make less; to diminish; to reduce in bulk, size, quantity, number or amount; to make smaller; as, to lessen a kingdom or its population.
  2. To diminish in degree, state or quality; as, awkward manners tend to lessen our respect for men of merit.
  3. To degrade; to reduce in dignity. St. Paul chose to magnify his office, when ill men conspired to lessen it. – Atterbury.


Made smaller; diminished.


Reducing in bulk, amount or degree; degrading.

LESS'ER, a. [Sax. læssa, læsse, from læs. This word is a corruption; but too well established to be discarded.]

Less; smaller. Authors always write the Lesser Asia. By the same reason, may a man in a state of nature, punish the lesser breaches of that law. – Locke. God made the lesser light to rule the night. – Gen. i.

LES'SON, n. [les'n; This word we probably have received from the Fr. leçon, L. lectio, from lego, to read, Fr. lire, lisant; Sp. leccion; It. lezione; Sw. lexa; and not from the D. leezen, G. lesen, to read.]

  1. Any thing read or recited to a teacher by a pupil or learner for improvement; or such a portion of a book as a pupil learns and repeats at one time. The instructor is pleased when his pupils recite their lessons with accuracy and promptness.
  2. A portion of Scripture read in divine service. Thus endeth the first lesson.
  3. A portion of a book or manuscript assigned by a preceptor to a pupil to be learnt, or for an exercise; something to be learnt. Give him his lesson.
  4. Precept; doctrine or notion inculcated. Be not jealous over the wife of thy bosom, and teach her not an evil lesson against thyself. – Eccles.
  5. Severe lecture; reproof; rebuke. She would give her a lesson for walking so late. – Sidney.
  6. Tune written for an instrument. – Davies.
  7. Instruction or truth, taught by experience. The lessons which sickness imparts, she leaves to be practiced when health is established.

LES'SON, v.t. [les'n.]

To teach; to instruct. Children should be lessoned into a contempt and detestation of this vice. – L'Estrange.


Taught; instructed.



LES'SOR, n. [from lease.]

One who leases; the person who lets to farm, or gives lease. – Blackstone.

LEST, part. [from the Sax. leas, Goth. laus; louse, separate. In Saxon it was preceded by the, the leas, that less, that not, ne forte. Hence it denotes a loosing or separation, and hence it comes to express prevention.]

That not; for fear that. Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. – Gen. iii. The phrase may be thus explained. Ye shall not touch it; that separated or dismissed, ye die. That here refers to the preceding command or sentence; that being removed or not observed, the fact being not so, ye will die. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come to thee. John v. Sin no more; that fact not taking place, a worse thing will happen to thee.

LET, a. [-let.]

A termination of diminutives; as, hamlet, a little house; rivulet, a small stream. [Sax. lyt, small, less, few. See Little.]

LET, n.

A retarding; hinderance; obstacle; impediment; delay. [Obsolete, unless in some technical phrases.]

LET, v.i.

To forbear. [Obs.] – Bacon.

LET, v.t. [pret. and pp. let. Letted is obsolete. Sax. lætan, letan, Goth. letan, to permit, to hinder, to dismiss or send away, to let go, to leave, to admit, to think or suppose, to dissemble, to retard, to be late or slow, to dally or trifle, to lease or let out; letan aweg, to let away, to throw; W. lluz, hinderance; lluziaw, to hinder; D. laaten, to permit, to suffer, to give, to leave, to loose, to put, to stow; G. lassen, to let, to permit, grant, allow, suffer; verlassen, to forsake; unterlassen, to cease, to forbear; Sw. läta, to permit; Dan. lader, to let, permit, allow, grant, suffer, give leave. But in the four latter dialects, there is another verb, which corresponds with let in some of its significations; D. lyden, G. leiden, Sw. lida, Dan. lider, to suffer, endure, undergo, to permit. With this verb corresponds the English late, D. laat, Sw. lat, Dan. lad, slothful, lazy; and the G. lass, feeble, lazy, coincides with lassen, supra, and this may be the Eng. lazy. To let out, like L. elocare, is to lease, Fr. laisser. Let is the Fr. laisser, in a different dialect. By the German and Welsh it appears that the last radical may have originally been th, ts or tz, or other compound. See Class Ld, No. 2, 15, 19, 23, 32, and Class Ls, No. 30.]

  1. To permit; to allow; to suffer; to give leave or power by a positive act, or negatively, to withhold restraint; not to prevent. A leaky ship lets water enter into the hold. Let is followed by the infinitive without the sign to. Pharaoh said, I will let you go. – Ex. viii. When the ship was caught and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. – Acts xxvii.
  2. To lease; to grant possession and use for a compensation; as, to let to farm; to let an estate for a year; to let a room to lodgers; often followed by out, as, to let out a farm; but the use of out is unnecessary.
  3. To suffer; to permit; with the usual sign of the infinitive. There's a letter for you, Sir, if your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is. [Not used.] – Shak.
  4. In the imperative mode, let has the following uses. Followed by the first and third persons, it expresses desire or wish; hence it is used in prayer and entreaty to superiors, and to those who have us in their power; as, let me not wander from thy commandments. Ps. cxix. Followed by the first person plural, let expresses exhortation or entreaty; as, rise, let us go. Followed by the third person, it implies permission or command addressed to an inferior. Let him go, let them remain, are commands addressed to the second person. Let thou, or let ye, that is, do thou or you permit him to go. Sometimes let is used to express a command or injunction to a third person: When the signal is given to engage, let every man do his duty. When applied to things not rational, it implies allowance or concession. O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow. – Pope.
  5. To retard; to hinder; to impede; to interpose obstructions. – 2 Thess. ii. [This sense is now obsolete, or nearly so.] To let alone, to leave; to suffer to remain without intermeddling; as, let alone this idle project; let me alone. To let down, to permit to sink or fall; to lower. She let them down by a cord through the window. – Josh. ii. To let loose, to free from restraint; to permit to wander at large. To let in or into, to permit or suffer to enter; to admit. Open the door, let in my friend. We are not let into the secrets of the cabinet. To let blood, to open a vein and suffer the blood to flow out. To let out, to suffer to escape; also, to lease or let to hire. To let off, to discharge, to let fly, as an arrow; or cause to explode, as a gun.


  1. A leach tub. [See Leach.]
  2. A long, narrow swamp in which water moves slowly. – Brockett.

LE'THAL, a. [L. lethalis, mortal, from Gr. ληθη, oblivion.]

Deadly; mortal; fatal. – Richardson.


Mortality. – Akins.