less·er / ˈlesər/ • adj. [attrib.] not 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. ∎ lower in terms of rank or quality: the lesser aristocracy you're looking down your nose at us lesser mortals. ∎ used in names of animals and plants that are smaller than similar kinds, e.g., lesser spotted woodpecker, lesser celandine. PHRASES: 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.