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 Unlike the intellectuals, these kids had no real political sensibility, at least initially. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, "Hari Kunzru on Privacy, Surveillance, and Paranoia," 29 June 2020 The Giants expect that to be in Sacramento, but might not open it straight away, having their entire pool train at Oracle, at least initially. Henry Schulman, SFChronicle.com, "Giants release Pablo Sandoval, 3 others in temporary procedural move ahead of camp," 28 June 2020 At least there is a locktail hour at the end of the week (or, for many, at the end of most days). The Economist, "Johnson The rules of coronaspeak," 27 June 2020 At least initially, the system will not function while the vehicle is towing a trailer. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "2021 Ford F-150 features and tech aim to delight owners and stump the competition," 26 June 2020 This principle of reciprocity on its own should rule out U.S. citizens, at least initially. USA TODAY, "As Europe borders reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, US citizens may be excluded," 25 June 2020 On this, at least, Bolton is convincing: Trump cannot, at a basic level, fulfill the responsibilities of the office. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "John Bolton’s Accidentally Unflattering Self-Portrait," 25 June 2020 This principle of reciprocity on its own should rule out U.S. citizens, at least initially. Lorne Cook, Anchorage Daily News, "Europe is reopening its borders, but US citizens are likely to be banned," 24 June 2020 New York was hit hard early; California was not, at least initially. Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, "How America’s Hospitals Survived the First Wave of the Coronavirus," 15 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This is one of the ideas that have long made electoral politics a graveyard for the American left: the hope of a post-political, revolutionary campaign built on the backs of the voters most sympathetic to their cause and least likely to vote. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "After Bernie," 19 Mar. 2020 The scales will be tipped by those least connected to the political parties, and most connected to deliberative process. David Paleologos, USA TODAY, "Paleologos on the Poll: On Trump impeachment, watch the voters who haven't made up their minds," 29 Oct. 2019 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 Luckily, summer shopping can be the least expensive out of all the seasons. Nandi Howard, Essence, "How To Get A New Summer Wardrobe On A Budget," 2 July 2020 This could be a difficult six-month period to hold the stock, assuming the economic slowdown continues into the second half of 2020 (at least), but for patient investors, General Dynamics looks poised to pay off over the long run. Dallas News, "Motley Fool: General Dynamics has underperformed but looks better long-term," 28 June 2020 Then, hold the rod tip high enough to keep at least most and preferably all of the fly line off the water. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "Skate, Skitter, and Twitch Dry Flies for Trout," 26 June 2020 China is estimated to have roughly 300 nuclear warheads but is believed to be on a path to at least double, perhaps more than triple, the size of its strategic arsenal over the next decade. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Trump wants to replace New START with a treaty that includes China," 25 June 2020 The people and the nations least responsible for the problem are, in many cases, the most threatened. Simon Donner, Scientific American, "The Ugly History of Climate Determinism Is Still Evident Today," 24 June 2020 The nation of 5 million people now has one of the least stringent response settings in the world, according to a gauge developed by Oxford University. Tracy Withers / Bloomberg, Time, "New Zealand Grants James Cameron Exemption to Travel Ban So He Can Begin Filming Avatar Sequel," 24 June 2020 Gundy and Hubbard came together and, at least publicly, seemed to reconcile. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Texas’ Tom Herman ‘proud’ as players become more outspoken about social injustice," 23 June 2020 Like nearly everything else in rock, that tour has been tabled to (at least) next year due to coronavirus. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "Ratt is much more than ‘Round and Round’," 15 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for least

Time Traveler

The first known use of least was before the 12th century

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Statistics for least

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Least.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/least. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for least

least

adjective
How to pronounce least (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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