adj. Superlative of bad1, ill.
1. Most inferior, as in quality, condition, or effect: the worst hitter on the team.
2. Most severe or unfavorable: the worst winter in years.
3. Being furthest from an ideal or a standard; least desirable or satisfactory: This is the worst cafeteria!
adv. Superlative of badly, ill.
In the worst manner or degree.
tr.v. worst·ed, worst·ing, worsts
To gain the advantage over; defeat: was worsted in the argument.
Something that is worst.
at (the) worst
Under the most negative circumstances, estimation, or interpretation: At worst, the storm will make us postpone the trip.
get/have the worst of it
To suffer a defeat or disadvantage.
if (the) worst comes to (the) worst
If the very worst thing happens.
in the worst way Informal
Very much; a great deal: wanted to be elected in the worst way.
[Middle English, from Old English wyrsta; see wers- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.