79 Common Adjectives with the Suffix -less (PDF download)

I was teaching a lesson to a private student last month and we talked about e-cigarettes. Some people prefer these electronic cigarettes because they are smokeless. Smoke LESS means they don’t make smoke. This caused us to look at the suffix -less in more detail. 

There are MANY common English words that use this suffix, so I made this post for other English students who want to quickly increase their English vocabulary. This post will teach you how.

The Suffix -less Meaning

The suffix -less means without

  • “I bought a pack of sugarless gum.” – Gum without sugar

It can also mean not doing; not affected by

  • “Tina is a very selfless person.” – She thinks more about the needs of others than her own

less suffix -OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com 

The origin of this suffix is
Old English -lēas, from lēas ‘devoid of’.

LINK

A List of Common English Words with the Suffix -less

  1. ageless – ​existing forever; impossible to give an age to

“The beginning of the universe is an ageless mystery.” 

  1. aimless – ​having no direction or plan

“To be honest, after graduating from University I felt quite aimless. I didn’t feel I had a real purpose to my life yet. I had to keep searching.” 

  1. boundless – without limits; seeming to have no end

“I stood on the top deck of the cruise ship and looked at the boundless ocean. It was beautiful.” 

  1. breathless – experiencing, or making somebody experience, a strong emotional reaction

“The concert was one of the greatest experiences of my life and the performance left me breathless.” 

  1. bottomless – very deep; seeming to have no bottom or limit (This is often used with drink orders at restaurants to mean all you can drink. Your glass has no bottom, you can get as many refills as you want.)

“I would like a double cheeseburger combo with a bottomless Pepsi please.” 

BOTTOMLESS soda
  1. brainless – stupid; not able to think or talk in an intelligent way

“I like Michael but I can’t stand some of his brainless friends.” 

  1. careless – not giving enough attention and thought to what you are doing, so that you make mistakes

“Andrew left some important information out of his report. That was careless.”

  1. ceaseless – not stopping; seeming to have no end

“She grew tired of his ceaseless questions.”

  1. clueless – very stupid; not able to understand or to do something (without a clue)

“Sam knew a lot about cars but he was clueless when it came to boats.”

  1. countless – very many; too many to be counted or mentioned

“Tina’s selfless efforts have had an impact on countless lives in her community.”

  1. childless – having no children

“The number of childless couples is rising in Japan.”

  1. cloudless – clear; with no clouds

“I stared up into the cloudless sky and wondered what the future may hold for me.” 

  1. cordless – (of a phone or an electrical tool) not connected to its power supply by wires

“I bought my dad a cordless drill for Father’s Day last year. He really likes it.” 

I bought a new cordless drill. It was on sale.
  1. colorless – without color or very pale

“I noticed a colorless liquid leaking from the side of my air conditioner. I wondered what it was.” 

  1. defenseless – weak; not able to protect yourself; having no protection

“The punch left the fighter confused and defenseless so the referee stopped the fight.” 

  1. doubtless – almost certainly (without doubt) *This is the one word on our list that is an ADVERB, not an ADJECTIVE.

“Richie just spent a lot of money on a motorcycle. Doubtless, his wife will not be happy.”

  1. effortless – needing little or no effort, so that it seems easy

“Reggie has been playing the piano since he was 4 years old. He makes it look effortless.” 

  1. endless – very large in size or amount and seeming to have no end

“It always seems like I have an endless list of things to do.” 

  1. expressionless – not showing feelings, thoughts, etc.

“Her face was expressionless and that told me everything I needed to know.” 

  1. faceless – having no characteristics or identity that are easy to notice

“With no artistic freedom, your culture becomes faceless. This is a sad situation for people living in areas controlled by the Taliban.” 

  1. faultless – having no mistakes (without fault)

“Many mistakes were made and we need to get to work correcting them. I know I’m not faultless in all this so we will be working together.” 

  1. fearless – ​not afraid, in a way that people admire

“Luis will start conversations with anyone. He’s absolutely fearless, I wish I was so brave.” 

  1. featureless – without any qualities or characteristics that are easy to notice

“This part of the country is nothing but fields. It’s flat and featureless for many kilometers.”

  1. flawless – ​without flaws and therefore perfect

“The diamond was flawless and worth a lot of money.” 

The largest flawless diamond in the world is known as The Paragon. It was mined in Brazil and is worth 72 million dollars! LINK

  1. flightless – (of birds or insects) unable to fly

“Ostriches and penguins are two flightless birds.” 

  1. gutless – not brave or determined enough to do something

“He was gutless and not cut out for the military.” 

  1. hairless – without hair 

“My grandmother had a hairless Chihuahua. It’s cute but a little too noisy for me. My grandma loves it though.” 

  1. harmless – unable or unlikely to cause damage or harm

“The bacteria that they found in the water is harmless to humans so it’s okay to drink.”

  1. heartless – ​feeling no sympathy for other people

“The villain of the movie was very clever but also heartless. This is a dangerous combination.”

  1. headless – without a head

“The Legend of Sleepy Hallow tells the story of a ghost called the headless horseman. He was a soldier who lost his head in battle.”

  1. helpless – unable to take care of yourself or do things without the help of other people

“Even after the war is over and the fighting has stopped helpless children are still at risk.”

  1. homeless – having no home, and therefore typically living on the streets

“The mayor is trying hard to reduce the number of homeless in the city.” 

We need help the homeless in our city by giving them safe places to eat, get clean, and help them get back on their feet.
  1. hopeless – if something is hopeless, there is no hope that it will get better or succeed

“The situation looked hopeless so the team had to regroup and decide if it was worth it to continue.” 

  1. jobless – without a job

“The shoe factory closed due to the bad economy. The closure left 350 people jobless.” 

  1. joyless – bringing no happiness; without joy

“She didn’t have any close friends and not much of a social life. Her time at college was joyless. Only studying, eating, and sleeping.”

  1. lawless – (of a country or an area) where laws do not exist or are not obeyed

“It was a lawless time in the country, whatever one you met could be dangerous.” 

  1. lifeless – dead or appearing to be dead

“His lifeless body was discovered by the hotel made the next morning.” 

  1. limitless – ​without a limit; very great

“When we got to the new condo I was very excited. It was completely empty but the possibilities were limitless.”

  1. meaningless – ​without any purpose or reason and therefore not worth doing or having

“I remember High School being filled with classes where the teacher just gave the students meaningless tasks to keep them busy.”

  1. merciless – showing no sympathy or kind treatment

“A merciless storm suddenly came out of the clouds so we quickly ran for cover to try and keep dry.” 

  1. mindless – done or acting without thought and for no particular reason or purpose

“Zombies are mindless creatures who only exist for one reason, to eat human brains!”

*Check my list of Zombie and Dead Idioms at the link below:

  1. moneyless – having no money

“The stock market crash left him moneyless. He needed to start his life over.” 

  1. motionless – ​not moving; still

“After the earthquake, I waited motionless under the table worried about the aftershocks that might come soon.” 

  1. nameless – having no name; whose name you do not know

“It’s a huge company full of nameless and faceless employees to come in, do their job, and go home every day.” 

  1. odorless – without a smell

“Natural gas is naturally odorless, a smell is added to it so that people can detect leaks in their home. I also recommend buying a gas leak monitor to be safe.”

  1. painless – causing you no pain

“I was only in the hospital for 2 hours. The whole procedure was painless.” 

  1. paperless – using computers, phones, etc. rather than paper to exchange information

“The office will go paperless in October. All communication will be digital after that.” 

Every year, $25-35 billion is spent in the U.S. on filing, storing, and retrieving paper.
Docuphase.com

  1. penniless – ​having no money; very poor

“After some bad decisions, Chris ended up penniless. He wasn’t sure what to do next with his life.” 

  1. pointless – ​having no purpose; not worth doing

“I grew tired of the meaningless training and the pointless exercises. In the end, I just walked away from the course. It was the best decision I ever made.” 

  1. priceless – extremely valuable or important

“Joe has been collecting art for over twenty years. He has many priceless pieces in his collection.” 

  1. powerless – completely unable to do something

“I saw what was happening to my community but I felt powerless to do anything about it. That’s when I started getting involved and giving back to the community.” 

  1. reckless – showing a lack of care about danger and the possible results of your actions

“The police charged him with reckless driving after the accident.” 

An estimated 25% of all road deaths are caused by distracted driving. (Texting, making a call, eating, drinking etc.) LINK

  1. relentless – not stopping

“The attack was relentless, there seems to be an endless supply of enemy troops coming to battle.” 

  1. restless – unable to stay still or be happy where you are because you are bored or need a change

“I love my hometown but I was feeling a bit restless in my mid-twenties. It was time for a change, time for me to move away and make a fresh start somewhere new.” 

  1. ruthless – (of people or their behavior) hard and cruel; determined to get what you want and not caring if you hurt other people

“Some people feel you have to be ruthless in business, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s possible to be in a situation where everyone benefits.” 

  1. seamless – with no spaces or breaks between one part and the next

“I was lucky during the pandemic. The transition from teaching in-person to teaching online lessons was seamless.” 

  1. selfless – thinking more about the needs, happiness, etc. of other people than about your own

“Tina is very selfless.”

  1. senseless – having no meaning or purpose

“The reporter saw what can only be described as senseless violence.” 

  1. shameless – not feeling ashamed of something you have done, although other people think you should

“Ryan is a shameless promoter of his new car cleaning business. He will talk about it with anyone every chance he gets.” 

  1. shapeless – not having any definite shape

“I had 4 nice sweaters that were stored incorrectly. Now they are shapeless lumps of cloth that need to be dry cleaned.” 

  1. shirtless – lacking or not wearing a shirt; bare-chested

“The calendar had pictures of shirtless fireman posing at the fire station.” 

  1. shoeless – lacking shoes; barefoot

“The restaurant has a simple dress code. People who are shoeless or shirtless may not enter.” 

  1. skinless – skinless meat has had its skin removed

“I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up some skinless chicken breasts. I’m going to make chicken fried rice for dinner.” 

  1. sleepless – without sleep

“Miranda spent many sleepless nights worrying about her husband I was away at war.”

Randy Gardner set the record for the longest amount of time a human has gone without sleep. He stayed awake for 11 days and 25 minutes! LINK

  1. sleeveless – (of clothes) without any part covering your arms

“Lucy wore a beautiful blue and green sleeveless dress to the party. No one could take their eyes off her.”

  1. smokeless – able to burn without producing smoke

“Some people prefer these electronic cigarettes because they are smokeless.”

  1. speechless – not able to speak, especially because you are extremely angry or surprised

“After hearing the news everyone was left speechless. We couldn’t believe we just heard.”

  1. spineless – (of people) weak and easily frightened

“I doubt the prime minister will stand up to the big businesses that are ruining the environment. He is spineless.”

  1. spotless – perfectly clean

“My drill sergeant at basic training expected our living area to always be spotless.” 

  1. stainless – resistant to discoloration, esp discoloration resulting from corrosion; rust-resistant

“Gardening equipment is often made of stainless steel because it gets wet and dirty when used in the garden.” 

  1. sugarless – having no sugar

“Chewing sugarless gum is better for your teeth and regular come. Sugar causes cavities.” 

374 billion pieces of chewing gum are sold worldwide every year, that’s 187 billion hours of gum-chewing if each piece of gum is chewed for 30 minutes. LINK

  1. tasteless – having little or no taste 

“I always add maple syrup to my porridge in the morning to get some flavor. Porridge by itself is quite tasteless.” 

  1. timeless – not appearing to be affected by the process of time passing or by changes in fashion

“The song was written 45 years ago but it is still enjoyed by many even today. It’s timeless. It’s a classic.”

  1. thoughtless – not caring about the possible effects of your words or actions on other people

“Ian is not invited to the party. He is a thoughtless jerk.” 

  1. toothless – ​having no teeth

“The old man flashed a big toothless grin that made everyone smile.” 

  1. topless – not wearing any clothes on the upper part of the body, especially so that the breasts are not covered

“She worked as a topless model to pay for her school tuition.” 

  1. useless – not useful; not doing or achieving what is needed or wanted

“I spent $380 on a new drone with a front and rear camera. Unfortunately, the motor just burned out so now it’s useless. What a waste.” 

  1. victimless – a victimless crime is one in which nobody seems to suffer or be harmed

“If adults choose to smoke marijuana and no one is harmed it is a victimless crime. The government was correct to change the law.”
*It is now legal to buy and sell marijuana in Canada. 

  1. worthless – having no practical or financial value

“I found some old comic books in my parent’s basement that I had when I was a kid. I checked online and sadly most of them are worthless.”

The suffix -less PLUS the suffix -ness

Some adjectives made with the suffix -less can become nouns by adding the suffix -ness to the end of the adjective.

Original wordAdjective Noun
carecarelesscarelessness
helphelplesshelplessness
homehomelesshomelessness
thoughtthoughtlessthoughtlessness
shapeshapelessshapelessness
  • I apologize for my carelessness.
  • Many big cities have a problem with homelessness.

Learn more at: Use the suffix ~NESS to increase your English vocabulary (Fast)

Sugarless VS Sugar-free

Here are the dictionary definitions for the adjectives sugarless and sugar-free.
*Sugar-free is usually written with a hyphen (-). By their dictionary definitions, these two words mean the same thing.

  • sugarless – having no sugar
  • sugar-free – not containing any sugar

However, some countries have rules for the labels that you can put on food packages. 

In America, there is an organization called the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to make sure food and drugs are safe for people to eat and use.

Various terms are used by FDA such as sugar-free, zero sugar, no sugar, and sugarless. Some products such as canned fruits are also labelled as ‘no sugar added.’ However, these products contain their natural sugars, but no artificial sugar is added during processing.

Sugar-Free For Diabetes: What Does It Mean? – PharmEasy Blog 

I don’t often see the Suffix -LESS written on other food labels. It is more common to use the suffix -FREE to show that something is missing.

  • “I buy fat-free Greek yogurt to eat with my breakfast.” 
  • “It’s after 7:00 PM so I’ll take a caffeine-free soda, please. Caffeine keeps me awake.” 
  • “This tastes just like wine but it’s alcohol-free.” 
  • “My niece can only eat bread that is gluten-free.”

Sugarless and sugar-free mean the same thing BUT careless and carefree DO NOT mean the same thing! 

Remember careless means not giving enough attention and thought to what you are doing so that you make mistakes

On the other hand…
A person that is carefree is very relaxed, and never worried or stressed. They don’t have a care in the world!


Printable Suffix -LESS Wordlist PDF

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Find more great Prefix and Suffix posts at the links below!

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