least

adjective
\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 3)

superlative of little entry 1

1 : lowest in importance or position the least of my worries
2a : smallest in size or degree The least noise would startle her.
b : being a member of a kind distinguished by diminutive size the least bittern
c : smallest possible : slightest believed that the least government was the best government— Irving Stone

least

noun

Definition of least (Entry 2 of 3)

: one that is least
at least
1 : at the minimum at least once a week
2 : in any case at least you have a choice

least

adverb

Definition of least (Entry 3 of 3)

superlative of little entry 2

: in the smallest or lowest degree
least of all
: especially not no one, least of all the children, paid attention

Examples of least in a Sentence

Adverb

Who was the least at fault in the case? He asked me to help him when I least expected it. That was the least important of her reasons. That was the least interesting book I have ever read.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But before history’s sliding doors slammed shut, the Rams still needed to at least get into field-goal range. Los Angeles Times, "The Sports Report: Reports of USC’s resurgence were greatly exaggerated," 15 Sep. 2019 Week 1 produced a number of other big fantasy headlines: That’s So Ravens — Baltimore was expected to be a run-first team, at least until QB Lamar Jackson got a look at Miami’s sad excuse for a defense. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 2: Last-minute moves," 15 Sep. 2019 With all due respect to Brandon Wimbush, Darriel Mack Jr. and Quadry Jones, the UCF quarterback competition is now over — at least for the foreseeable future. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, "Hey, CFB playoff committee, did you see what UCF did to Stanford? | Commentary," 14 Sep. 2019 Beto O’Rourke, playing on his home turf—or at least in his home state—was arguably the night’s most compelling comeback story. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Second Tier in Top Form at Democratic Debate," 13 Sep. 2019 Which leads to an intriguing question: Given the sobering reality that those unbiased statistics convey, why has the wealthy-welder myth become so widely accepted, at least in certain circles? Paul Tough, The Atlantic, "The Myth of the Wealthy Welder," 13 Sep. 2019 Google Home does offer more color choices than Amazon, at least in the budget category, and the Google Home Mini offers teal, gray, black, and coral. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Should I Buy a Google Home or Amazon Echo?," 12 Sep. 2019 This insight led the researchers to the unorthodox hypothesis that perhaps bones evolved, at least in part, to help animals escape from danger. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, "Fight or Flight May Be In Our Bones," 12 Sep. 2019 At times, this balancing act has teetered too far in heeding signals from Beijing, at least in the eyes of foreign observers. Jane Li, Quartz at Work, "Jack Ma’s 55th birthday present to himself is stepping away from Alibaba," 9 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Respondents were asked to rank 39 possible trends—25 of which were trends from previous years—from 1 (least likely to be a trend) to 10 (most likely to be a trend). Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "The Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2019, According to Fitness Pros," 1 Nov. 2018 Women nominated for Grammy Awards, for instance, were most likely to be recognized for best new artist or song of the year and least likely to be up for producer of the year. August Brown, latimes.com, "More than 90% of recent Grammy nominees are men, USC study finds," 25 Jan. 2018 As of now, the Power 5 league least likely to be represented in the playoff is the Pac-12, whose teams have steadily beaten each other; only one of its teams is ranked in The A.P.’s top 15. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "Could the College Football Playoff Shut Out 2 Power Conferences?," 30 Oct. 2017 A pre-emptive U.S. military blow can’t be ruled out, but such a strike carries great risk and is among his least likely options. Robert Burns, The Seattle Times, "Pre-emptive US strike on North Korea could be ‘catastrophic’," 6 July 2017 That propels her toward Rex, the bomb-sniffer least likely to be voted Mr. Canine Congeniality. Special To The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "“Megan Leavey” is a canine-human love story," 9 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Hartford’s primary proved to be the least exciting of the three big cities. Russell Blair, courant.com, "Capitol Week in Review: Surprises and snoozers in municipal primaries," 13 Sep. 2019 Breeding traditions in both countries reflected national differences of taste — differences that, at least on the American side, are now converging. Boston.com Real Estate, "30 years of Russian influence … on our tomatoes," 11 Sep. 2019 In the latest study, published in Royal Society Open Science, researchers evaluated the practice habits of three groups of 13 violinists, rated as best, good, and least-accomplished. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, "Turns out it doesn’t take 10,000 hours to become an expert," 8 Sep. 2019 Briarpatch is least successful establishing itself as a whodunnit, which is partially a product of Pick's character. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Briarpatch': TV Review | TIFF 2019," 7 Sep. 2019 Andrew Wheeler, a criminologist at the University of Texas at Dallas, says that national-level databases should at least include all levels of use of force—down to the drawing of a weapon—in order to answer questions and create change. Lynne Peeples, Scientific American, "What the Data Say about Police Shootings," 5 Sep. 2019 The only Bay Area counties where the median price rose year over year were the most and least expensive. Kathleen Pender, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area homes got slightly more affordable in July as prices and mortgage rates fall," 29 Aug. 2019 In his grand delusions and smarmy self-importance, Connor is the least affected by the toxic struggle consuming the rest of the family. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "The Succession Season 2 Roy Family Power Rankings," 8 Aug. 2019 Listen, letting go of the last year’s charmed season hasn’t been easy, least of all for the team itself, which limped into 2019 with an obvious championship hangover. Tara Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "It sure feels like the energy is back in this Red Sox season," 29 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'least.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of least

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for least

Adjective, Noun, and Adverb

Middle English leest, from Old English lǣst, superlative of lǣssa less

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More Definitions for least

least

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: smallest in amount or degree

least

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of least (Entry 2 of 2)

: in or to the smallest degree

least

adjective
\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Kids Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 3)

superlative of little

: smallest in size or degree The least noise startles her.

least

noun

Kids Definition of least (Entry 2 of 3)

: the smallest or lowest amount or degree I don't mind in the least.
at least
1 : not less or fewer than Read at least 20 pages.
2 : in any case At least you have a choice.

least

adverb

Kids Definition of least (Entry 3 of 3)

superlative of little

: in or to the smallest degree You arrived when I least expected you.

least

Medical Definition of least

superlative of little

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More from Merriam-Webster on least

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with least

Spanish Central: Translation of least

Nglish: Translation of least for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of least for Arabic Speakers

Comments on least

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