Definition of lesser in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlesər/


1Not so great or important as the other or the rest: he was convicted of a lesser assault charge they nest mostly in Alaska and to a lesser extent in Siberia
less important, minor, secondary, subsidiary, marginal, ancillary, auxiliary, supplementary, peripheral;
inferior, insignificant, unimportant, petty;
Law  de minimis
1.1Lower in terms of rank or quality: the lesser aristocracy you’re looking down your nose at us lesser mortals
More example sentences
  • Perhaps lesser mortals in this field should wait for the hearings?
  • He showed no signs of jet lag, again something lesser mortals complain of.
  • Instead, it's how they deal with the stuff that would sink a far lesser talent.
subordinate, minor, inferior, second-class, subservient, lowly, humble
1.2Used in names of animals and plants that are smaller than similar kinds, e.g., lesser spotted woodpecker, lesser celandine.


On the punctuation of lesser in compound adjectives, see well1 (usage).


a/the lesser evil (or the lesser of two evils)

The less harmful or unpleasant of two bad choices or possibilities: authoritarianism may seem a lesser evil than abject poverty
More example sentences
  • I am not in favour of war but believe that it may be the lesser of two evils.
  • This greatly reduces our available choices, and, in the end, we are not necessarily choosing the best candidate, we are choosing the lesser of two evils.
  • The corruption and bloodshed have become so unbearable in a few countries that some people long for the return of the old colonial powers, that now seem to be the lesser of two evils.


Middle English: a double comparative, from less + -er2.

Words that rhyme with lesser

addresser, aggressor, assessor, compressor, confessor, contessa, depressor, digresser, dresser, guesser, intercessor, Odessa, oppressor, possessor, professor, represser, successor, transgressor, Vanessa

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: less·er

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