Definition of lesser in English:

lesser

Syllabification: less·er
Pronunciation: /ˈlesər
 
/

adjective

[attributive]
  • 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
    More example sentencesSynonyms
    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.
    Synonyms
    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.

Phrases

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.

Origin

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

Usage

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

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