adj. Superlative of good.
1. Surpassing all others in excellence, achievement, or quality; most excellent: the best performer; the best grade of ore.
2. Most satisfactory, suitable, or useful; most desirable: the best solution; the best time for planting.
3. Greatest; most: He spoke for the best part of an hour.
4. Most highly skilled: the best doctor in town.
adv. Superlative of well2.
1. In a most excellent way; most creditably or advantageously.
2. To the greatest degree or extent; most: "He was certainly the best hated man in the ship" (W. Somerset Maugham).
1. One that surpasses all others.
2. The best part, moment, or value: The best is still to come. Let's get the best out of life.
3. The optimum condition or quality: look your best. She was at her best in the freestyle competition.
4. One's nicest or most formal clothing.
5. The supreme effort one can make: doing our best.
6. One's warmest wishes or regards: Give them my best.
tr.v. best·ed, best·ing, bestsIdioms:
To get the better of; beat: "I'm a rough customer, I expect, but I know when I'm bested" (Nathanael West).
1. Interpreted most favorably; at the most: no more than 40 people at best in attendance.
2. Under the most favorable conditions: has a top speed of 20 miles per hour at best.
for the best
With an ultimately positive or preferable result.
get/have the best of
To outdo or outwit; defeat: My opponent got the best of me in the debate.
make the best of
To accept (a bad situation) in as good a light as possible.
[Middle English, from Old English betst; see bhad- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: According to a traditional rule of grammar, better, not best, should be used in comparisons between two things: Which house of Congress has the better attendance record? This rule is often ignored in practice, but it still has many devoted adherents. In certain fixed expressions, however, best is used idiomatically for comparisons between two: Put your best foot forward. May the best team win! See Usage Notes at have, rather.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.