Use the adjective lesser to describe something that's smaller than or inferior to something else. A lesser singer might sound fine in the context of a large chorus, but a solo performance could be tricky.

A young car thief might be charged with a lesser crime because of his age — trespassing instead of larceny, for example. He's also likely to end up with a lesser punishment in that case. Sometimes people talk about "the lesser of two evils," by which they mean the less bad of two bad choices, or describe something as "lesser-known," like a rarely studied poet or an unacknowledged scientist.

Definitions of lesser
  1. adjective
    of less size or importance
    “the lesser anteater”
    “the lesser of two evils”
    see moresee less
    greater in size or importance or degree
  2. adjective
    smaller in size or amount or value
    “the lesser powers of Europe”
    “the lesser anteater”
    little, small
    limited or below average in number or quantity or magnitude or extent
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