better

adjective
bet·ter | \ ˈbe-tər \

Definition of better 

(Entry 1 of 5)

comparative of good

1 : greater than half for the better part of an hour

2 : improved in health or mental attitude feeling better

3 : more attractive, favorable, or commendable in better circumstances

4 : more advantageous or effective a better solution

5 : improved in accuracy or performance building a better engine

better

verb
bettered; bettering; betters

Definition of better (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

1 : to make better (see better entry 1): such as

a : to make more tolerable or acceptable trying to better the lot of slum dwellers

b : to make more complete or perfect looked forward to bettering her acquaintance with the new neighbors

2 : to surpass in excellence : excel bettered his personal record by nearly three seconds

intransitive verb

: to become better … must be bettering instead of worsening. —Thomas Carlyle

better

adverb

Definition of better (Entry 3 of 5)

comparative of well

1a : in a more excellent manner sings better than I do

b : to greater advantage : preferably some things are better left unsaid

2a : to a higher or greater degree he knows the story better than you do

b : more it is better than nine miles to the next town

better

noun

Definition of better (Entry 4 of 5)

1a : something better (see better entry 1) I expected better from them

b : a superior especially in merit or rank was respectful of his betters

2 : advantage, victory get the better of her

Definition of better (Entry 5 of 5)

: had better (see better entry 3 sense 1b) you better hurry

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for better

Verb

improve, better, help, ameliorate mean to make more acceptable or to bring nearer a standard. improve and better are general and interchangeable and apply to what can be made better whether it is good or bad. measures to further improve the quality of medical care immigrants hoping to better their lot help implies a bettering that still leaves room for improvement. a coat of paint would help that house ameliorate implies making more tolerable or acceptable conditions that are hard to endure. tried to ameliorate the lives of people in the tenements

Examples of better in a Sentence

Adjective

Her second book is better than her first one. This one is no better than that one. She's a better golfer than I am. He's a better singer than he is an actor. He's much better with children now that he's a father himself. The weather is better today than it was yesterday. They came up with a better solution to the problem. Don't you have something better to do than to watch TV all day? Her work wasn't that good at first, but it's getting better. Her work just keeps getting better and better.

Verb

They are trying to better the lives of working people. He looked forward to bettering his acquaintance with the new neighbors. The team has bettered its chances of winning the championship. She bettered her previous performance. He set a record that has never been equaled or bettered.

Adverb

“How is she doing in school?” “She did badly at first, but now she's doing much better.” She sings better than I do. He sings better than he acts. “Instead of writing to her, I'm going to visit her in person.” “Even better.” He knows the story much better than you do. Her paintings have become better known in recent years. There's nothing I'd like better than to see you again.

Noun

They shouldn't treat him that way. He deserves better. be polite to your betters and to your inferiors in equal measure
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In an ideal situation, the iPad can do more things (and better things) than a Chromebook for students. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "2018 iPad review: Content creation with compromises," 6 Apr. 2018 Better weather is forecast later this week across Florida as a ridge of high pressure that’s now over the western Atlantic will build west back into the state, McMichael said. USA TODAY, "Southwest Florida floods, breaks rainfall records," 28 Aug. 2017 Better fisheries management in some areas also has played a role in reducing discards, including strict rules on reducing waste and forbidding discards in Norway and parts of Europe. Laine Welch, Alaska Dispatch News, "Mixed salmon bag: Strong year for chums and reds while pinks and kings falter," 26 Aug. 2017 Better health through environmental action—that’s good news indeed for engaging people in marine conservation. Elin Kelsey, Smithsonian, "What Humpback Whales Can Teach Us About Compassion," 18 Aug. 2017 Better angels with a touch of badassery! (--- ^ with love for @jamesloduca) Have a beautifully badass weekend, everyone. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Mitt Romney Claps Back at Trump," 18 Aug. 2017 Better control of Zika's vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito that thrives in the hotter, southern part of the country, doesn't explain the dearth of cases. Ryan Cross, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: Disappearing Zika, tricky eclipses, and the world’s oldest ice cores," 18 Aug. 2017 Better babies: Insuring that Hoosiers were breeding the healthiest and most desirable human beings. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "RetroIndy: 10 nostalgic things to see and do at the Indiana State Fair," 11 Aug. 2017 Better time-tabling must become a feature of future Eurovision contests, the EBU also said. Nick Holdsworth, Billboard, "Eurovision Song Contest Changes Rules, Prohibits 'Any Form of Political Propaganda'," 2 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Imelda believed in bettering yourself throughout your life; which led her to learn belly dancing, modeling, cake decorating, painting, and embroidery. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Imelda M. Detelj," 12 July 2018 This intimacy that you’ve been granted comes with a responsibility to better the lives of those holding you. Will Hall, Recode, "Hey Siri, we have to talk," 4 June 2018 This solidarity among the workers provides the heart of Eight Hours, which shows how the relationships people create at work can better their personal lives. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "When Rainer Werner Fassbinder cheered up," 17 May 2018 This means a competitor who works to better his or her self, his or her teammates, as well as his or her sport. Charlene Paparizos, cleveland.com, "Chagrin Falls Student Athletes Better Themselves through Development Conferences: Community Voices," 22 Feb. 2018 More Detroit Tigers: The AL is stacked in the outfield, and an additional relief pitcher will better suit Astros manager A.J. Hinch in the glorified exhibition game. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' Nick Castellanos is an All-Star snub. Who's to blame?," 9 July 2018 In addition, our leadership is constantly open to new ideas and trying new things to better our work environment. Fortune, "100 Best Workplaces for Millennials," 26 June 2018 With everything else stripped away, the audience can’t help but witness a grimace and hear the labored breathing as the men try to better themselves and their bodies in a variety of ways. Kimber Myers, latimes.com, "Six men push their bodies to the limit in lyrical documentary 'A Skin so Soft'," 14 June 2018 Roelle bettered her own school record by more than 30 seconds to win in 10 minutes, 19.06 seconds. Joel Odom, OregonLive.com, "George Fox women are NCAA Division III co-champions in track and field," 27 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Whether that's worth his defensive liability is something that can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, but the kind of issue that higher-level teams are typically better equipped to compensate for. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "The Best Players Left in NBA Free Agency," 9 July 2018 Ellison’s push to make science fiction more literary was a victorious crusade, although other writers who made the same journey proved better equipped to write lasting books that blurred the line between fantastika and modernism. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Harlan Ellison’s Death Raises a #MeToo Quandary," 2 July 2018 The device needs to open up new possibilities and handle common tasks better than a phone or laptop does, and the mere presence of a second screen does not do that. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Software delays, lack of purpose means Microsoft’s “Andromeda” may never arrive," 2 July 2018 Home Sweet Lance Lance Stephenson has been better with the Pacers than the other five NBA teams he's played for, but how much better. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "How the Pacers cut Lance Stephenson and he signed to play with LeBron James," 2 July 2018 Proponents say that by loosening rules affecting smaller lenders, credit will flow more freely and community banks will be able to compete better with industry giants. Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor, "Post-crisis banking rules: now altered but not undone," 30 June 2018 Jealous has been doing better with voters in the Baltimore region while Baker has shored up support near the Washington suburbs. Erin Cox, baltimoresun.com, "Primary 101: A newcomer's guide to today's election in Maryland," 26 June 2018 Good To-Go Pad Thai: Probably better than your local delivery joint. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How To Eat Well When You're Camping," 26 June 2018 Going viral Mark Putnam, a veteran ad maker whose Democratic-aligned firm who produced Flores' commercial, said voters already view women candidates as more empathetic than men and better equipped to handle social issues. Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY, "Women candidates put gender, family and surviving abuse at forefront of midterm campaigns," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Although Louis wasn't named after his great-grandfather Prince Philip like British betters had hoped, his name is still significant with the Duke of Edinburgh's side of the family. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is How You Actually Pronounce Prince Louis' Name," 27 Apr. 2018 His tally of eight not only matches Neymar and Rooney, but also betters Ryan Giggs from the 2006/07 campaign, Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2012/13 and Xavi in 2008/09. SI.com, "Liverpool Star Joins Exclusive Club After Equalling Champions League Record in Man City Demolition," 5 Apr. 2018 Piloted by Stan Sayres, the speed of 160.3235 mph betters the previous record of 141 mph set in 1939 in England. Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "WSU quarterback Hilinski had CTE; travel ban upheld | Tuesday Morning Brief, June 26," 26 June 2018 Norwegian teen Jakob Ingebrigtsen's betters the iconic time Alan Webb ran in the mile at the Pre Classic in 2001 that set a U.S. high school record. Ken Goe, OregonLive.com, "The Pre Classic was a great show, but be real about attendance Oregon track & field rundown," 27 May 2018 Ex-Oregon runner Johnny Gregorek betters a tough field to win the 1,500 at the USATF Distance Classic. Ken Goe, OregonLive.com, "Nobody likes the Oregon Project's Galen Rupp? Says who? Oregon track & field rundown," 18 May 2018 But after the couple welcomed a boy, betters banked on princely names like Albert and Arthur (the top favorites). Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Royal Baby's Name Was Just Announced and It's As Regal As You Expected," 27 Apr. 2018 Previously, betters seemed set that Prince William and Kate Middleton were going to welcome a little girl, and the top favorite monikers included Alice, Mary, Elizabeth and Victoria. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Will Kate Middleton and Prince William Name Their New Baby Boy?," 23 Apr. 2018 More: Doyel: Bogdanovic betters LeBron with Reggie Miller moment as Pacers stun Cavs in Game 3 More: LeBron couldn’t figure out the Pacers. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Bogdanovic catches fire, Pacers regain series lead in stunning comeback vs. Cavs," 20 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Auxiliary verb

Their 15-match unbeaten run is bettered only by Spain, Belgium and Morocco - and none of those nations had as difficult a qualifying campaign as Peru. SI.com, "Peru's World Cup Journey: Part 1 - The Inca Invasion Begins as Peru Descends on Moscow," 15 June 2018 Creed bettered her score from a year ago by 16.55 points. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "North Shore April challenge," 4 Apr. 2018 But Austria's Thiem is one of three players to have bettered the Mallorcan on clay at least three times, following 2004 French Open winner Gaston Gaudio and Djokovic. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Rafael Nadal: Who can stop the 'King of Clay' at the French Open?," 21 May 2018 Allardyce became Everton's third manager of the campaign when he was appointed at the back end of November and has gone on to claim 33 points from 22 games; a record no other club outside of the top five has bettered. SI.com, "Wayne Rooney Backs Sam Allardyce But Admits Everton Need Stability This Summer," 30 Apr. 2018 Kim put up a score of 93.75 on the first of her three finals runs and then bettered it with a near-perfect 98.75 on her final run with the gold already well in hand. Will Graves, chicagotribune.com, "Chloe Kim dominates to take gold in women's halfpipe," 12 Feb. 2018 Imelda believed in bettering yourself throughout your life; which led her to learn belly dancing, modeling, cake decorating, painting, and embroidery. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Imelda M. Detelj," 12 July 2018 Loeb reached the top in 8:13.878, a time that many openly thought might never be bettered. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "7:57:148—Volkswagen makes racing history with record-breaking electric race car," 29 June 2018 At 52, Robinson is a mentor with quite a resumé of his own — an ex-offender who bettered himself by earning a degree at Community College of Philadelphia, and who is two semesters away from a bachelor’s in social work from Temple University. Tommy Rowan, Philly.com, "After 14 years in prison, ex-con fills out his first resume - and hopes," 12 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of better

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb

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

Adverb

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

Noun

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

Auxiliary verb

1817, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for better

Adjective

Middle English bettre, from Old English betera; akin to Old English bōt remedy, Sanskrit bhadra fortunate

Verb

see better entry 1

Adverb

see better entry 1

Noun

see better entry 1

Auxiliary verb

see better entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about better

Statistics for better

Last Updated

21 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for better

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for better

better

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of better

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: higher in quality

: more skillful

: more attractive, appealing, effective, useful, etc.

better

verb

English Language Learners Definition of better (Entry 2 of 4)

: to make (something) better

: to be or do better than (something or someone) : to improve on (something or someone)

better

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of better (Entry 3 of 4)

: in a better way

—used to suggest that something should or should not be done

: to a higher or greater degree

better

noun

English Language Learners Definition of better (Entry 4 of 4)

: something that is better : better behavior

better

adjective
bet·ter | \ ˈbe-tər \

Kids Definition of better

 (Entry 1 of 4)

comparative of good

1 : more satisfactory or skillful than another a better solution a better player

2 : improved in health I was sick but now I'm better.

better part

: more than half We waited the better part of an hour.

better

verb
bettered; bettering

Kids Definition of better (Entry 2 of 4)

: to make or become more satisfactory They are trying to better their performance.

better

adverb

Kids Definition of better (Entry 3 of 4)

comparative of well

1 : in a superior or more excellent way He sings better than I do.

2 : to a higher or greater degree She knows the story better than I do.

better

noun

Kids Definition of better (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : something that is more satisfactory This is a change for the better.

2 : advantage sense 2, victory She got the better of her opponent.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on better

What made you want to look up better? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!