least, less, lest


least, less, lest
Least is the superlative degree of little; less is the comparative: "Toby has less money that I have; in fact, she has the least money of any girl in our group." Both least and less always refer to amount, size, or importance: "less value," "least importance," "least influence," "less distance." (For the distinctions between less and fewer, See fewer.) "At least" and "not in the least" are frequently mere fillers in conversation and are overworked phrases. Neither least nor less should be confused with the conjunction lest, which means "for fear that": "He kept moving his fingers lest they freeze in the bitter cold." Lest also conveys the meaning of "so that" when used to introduce a statement suggesting a need for caution: "Don't say much lest the opposition steal your plan."

Dictionary of problem words and expressions. . 1975.

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  • lest — See least, less, lest …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • less — See fewer, less See least, less, lest …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • least — See least, less, lest …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • Less — Less, a. [OE. lesse, AS. l[=ae]ssa; akin to OFries. l[=e]ssa; a compar. from a lost positive form. Cf. {Lesser}, {Lest}, {Least}. Less has the sense of the comparative degree of little.] Smaller; not so large or great; not so much; shorter;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — [lēst] adj. [ME lest < OE læsest, læst, superl. of læssa, LESS] 1. alt. superl. of LITTLE 2. smallest or slightest in size, degree, importance, etc. [the least movement] 3. Biol. very small: used in names of species or varieties [least… …   English World dictionary

  • Least — (l[=e]st), a. [OE. last, lest, AS. l[=ae]sast, l[=ae]sest, superl. of l[=ae]ssa less. See {Less}, a.] [Used as the superlative of little.] Smallest, either in size or degree; shortest; lowest; most unimportant; as, the least insect; the least… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Least squares — Least Least (l[=e]st), a. [OE. last, lest, AS. l[=ae]sast, l[=ae]sest, superl. of l[=ae]ssa less. See {Less}, a.] [Used as the superlative of little.] Smallest, either in size or degree; shortest; lowest; most unimportant; as, the least insect;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Least Chub — Taxobox name = Least Chub status = VU | status system = IUCN2.3 regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Actinopterygii ordo = Cypriniformes familia = Cyprinidae genus = Iotichthys species = I. phlegethontis binomial = Iotichthys… …   Wikipedia

  • At least — Least Least (l[=e]st), a. [OE. last, lest, AS. l[=ae]sast, l[=ae]sest, superl. of l[=ae]ssa less. See {Less}, a.] [Used as the superlative of little.] Smallest, either in size or degree; shortest; lowest; most unimportant; as, the least insect;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • At the least — Least Least (l[=e]st), a. [OE. last, lest, AS. l[=ae]sast, l[=ae]sest, superl. of l[=ae]ssa less. See {Less}, a.] [Used as the superlative of little.] Smallest, either in size or degree; shortest; lowest; most unimportant; as, the least insect;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


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