I am having difficulties with the following usage of "much less":

French Guiana is the only territory on the continental mainland of either North or South America that is under the sovereignty of a European state, much less fully integrated in a European state. [Wikipedia article on French Guiana]

Here are some online explanations/examples I found:

  1. Tony can't boil an egg, much less cook dinner. [Cambridge]
  2. not to mention -> used especially in negative contexts to add to one item another denoting something less likely. He had trouble paying for a car, much less a high-definition TV. [Merriam-Webster]
  3. You use much less after a statement, often a negative one, to indicate that the statement is more true of the person, thing, or situation that you are going to mention next. They are always short of water to drink, much less to bathe in. [Collins]

The first one feels natural. The second one is a bit counterintuitive, since I would expect a car to be more expensive, but the explanation matches my understanding so far. 3) is also clear to me.

Now in the sentence from the WP article, what is the statement that is more true? That it is the only one? That would make sense, but for some reason my understanding doesn't map cleanly.

  • The Wikipedia example is badly written / nonsense (much less than what?), and the M-W example is badly-chosen, to say the least. I think in all contexts where much less has this sense, you can replace it with let alone, but I stand to be corrected on that. In any case, here's a chart showing that let alone is gradually winning the popularity contest. Jan 8, 2023 at 13:40
  • Does this answer your question? Wondering what the difference is between "much less" and "let alone" Jan 8, 2023 at 13:41
  • @FumbleFingers It doesn't help me with the concrete example more than what I've found and included in my question. But your first comment helps.
    – Karlo Grba
    Jan 9, 2023 at 22:15


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