best

1 of 5

adjective

superlative of good

1
: excelling all others
the best student in the class
2
: most productive of good : offering or producing the greatest advantage, utility, or satisfaction
What is the best thing to do?
3
: most, largest
It rained for the best part of their vacation.

best

2 of 5

adverb

superlative of well

1
: in the best (see best entry 1) way : to greatest advantage
Some things are best left unsaid.
2
: most
Those best able will provide needed support.

best

3 of 5

noun

plural best
1
: the best (see best entry 1) state or part
You haven't heard the best of it.
2
: one that is best
the best falls short
saved the best for last
3
: the greatest degree of good or excellence
He's at his best in front of a live audience.
democracy at its best
4
a
: one's maximum effort
do your best
b
: a best performance or achievement
ran a new personal best
5
: best clothes
wearing their Sunday best

best

4 of 5

verb

bested; besting; bests

transitive verb

: to get the better of : outdo
bested by their opponents

best

5 of 5

auxiliary verb

: had best (see best entry 2 sense 1)
you best listen
Phrases
as best
: as well, skillfully, or accurately as
Try to do it as best you can.
at best
: under the most favorable circumstances
won't be finished for another three months at best
At best, you will earn back what you paid in.
He's an average writer at best.
… was among the worst schools in a city whose public education could be described as struggling, at best.Ann Carrns
get the best of
: to overcome or outdo (someone or something) : to get the better of
The hero got the best of the villain in the end.
I let my emotions get the best of me and said something I regret.
Let's face it: As much as we like to eat healthy, the old sweet tooth sometimes gets the best of us.Denise I. O'Neal

Examples of best in a Sentence

Adjective You should wear your best clothes tonight. We ate the best food and drank the best wines. His modesty and sense of humor are his best qualities. Is that your best offer? Which of these do you think tastes best? Mary sends you her very best wishes. She's the best student in her class. He won the award for best actor in a drama. She truly believes that this is the best way to solve the problem. She's the team's best hope for a medal. Adverb The sauce is best served cold. They work best under pressure. That's what we do best! We need to think about how best to fix this problem. The work should be done by the people who are best able to do it. She's best suited to life in the city. He is best known for his invention of the light bulb. The museum features some of the best-known examples of this style of painting. Noun Out of all of my workers, he's the best. Our company is the best in the business. Thanks, Dad. You're the best! I have one more gift for you, and I saved the best for last. Bad things happen to the best of us. They want the best for their children. Even in the best of times, we had trouble paying our bills. In the best of all possible worlds, no one would be without food and clean water. I have a wonderful family and a great job, so I feel that I have the best of both worlds. He did his best to help them. Verb at last she's bested her card-playing mother at the game of hearts
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
But his lifelong best friend will be with him back in the Dallas area. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, 6 Feb. 2023 Bring your family, mom, best friend or significant other to one of two time slots, 4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14. Laura Groch feb. 5, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Feb. 2023
Adverb
Cruise ships are perhaps best known for amenities like buffets and swimming pools, but their medical facilities also have the capability to treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries, from common colds to heart attacks. Nathan Diller, USA TODAY, 9 Feb. 2023 The new Virginia Tech campus also promises to transform Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood, best known now as the site of a large strip mall. Teo Armus, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2023
Noun
The sophomore concluded his season in style with two new personal bests, winning the 3A high jump title (6-04) and placing fourth in the long jump (21-11). Jacob Steinberg, Baltimore Sun, 11 July 2024 Bridges was the Hornets’ most durable player in 2023-24, averaging career bests in points (21), made field goals (8.1), 3-pointers (2.3), 2-pointers (5.8), total rebounds (7.3) and defensive rebounds (6.3). Roderick Boone, Charlotte Observer, 6 July 2024
Verb
On three rare occasions, though, he was bested by high school peers. Hayes Gardner, Baltimore Sun, 16 July 2024 To much success; last year, Prince Harry’s Spare became the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time, according to Guinness World Records, besting previous record holder Michelle Obama and her 2018 memoir, Becoming. Shannon Carlin, TIME, 15 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for best 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'best.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English best, beste, going back to Old English betst, best, (as weak adjective) betsta, betesta, going back to Germanic *batista-, superlative degree of the adjective seen in the comparative *batizōn better entry 1, whence also Old Frisian best, bēst "best," Old Saxon betst, best, Old High German bezzisto, Old Icelandic beztr, baztr, Gothic batista

Adverb

Middle English, going back to Old English betst, betest, derivative of betst, best best entry 1

Noun

Middle English, going back to Old English betste, derivative of betst, best best entry 1

Verb

derivative of best entry 1, after better entry 2

Auxiliary verb

by ellipsis from had best

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Adverb

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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1863, in the meaning defined above

Auxiliary Verb

1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of best was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near best

Cite this Entry

“Best.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/best. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

best

1 of 4 adjective

superlative of good

1
: better than all others
my best friend
2
: good or useful in the highest degree : most excellent
the best movie I ever saw
3
: most entry 3, largest
it rained for the best part of a week

best

2 of 4 adverb

superlative of well

1
: in the best way : to the greatest advantage
some things are best left unsaid
2
: to the highest degree : most
best able to do the work

best

3 of 4 noun
plural best
1
: the best state or part
the best is yet to come
2
: one that is best
even the best lose once in a while
3
a
: one's greatest effort
do your best
b
: best performance or achievement
ran a new personal best
4
: best clothes
put on your Sunday best

best

4 of 4 verb
: to get the better of : outdo
bested us in every event

Biographical Definition

Best

biographical name

Charles Herbert 1899–1978 Canadian (American-born) physiologist

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