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

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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
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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

Others are mentally ill and/or addicted to alcohol or drugs and refuse overtures by the city to better their plight. J. Harry Jones, sandiegouniontribune.com, "What happened to all the homeless in Escondido's Grape Day Park?," 6 May 2018 Atlanta follows two cousins working through the Atlanta music scene in hopes of bettering their lives and those of their families. Katie Campione, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Atlanta' Season 3 Will Focus on Additional Female-Centric Stories," 11 June 2018 Minogue's new album has combined first-week units of 48,000, according to the Official Charts Company, bettering each of her last three releases. Paul Sexton, Billboard, "Kylie Minogue Is 'Golden' With Sixth U.K. No. 1 Album," 16 Apr. 2018 With the £7m arrival of Scotland international Stuart Armstrong from Celtic, and Manchester City stopper Angus Gunn coming in for £13.5m, Saints are making moves to better their prior campaign after a nervy 17th place finish. SI.com, "Denmark International Jannik Vestergaard Completes Medical Ahead of £18m Move to Southampton," 12 July 2018 People who live and do business on the Bench are excited — though not without reservations — about the prospect of removing a 60-year-old fuel tank farm and replacing it with something to better their neighborhoods. Sven Berg, idahostatesman, "A 60-year-old fuel terminal could leave Boise’s Bench. Here’s what could replace it.," 11 July 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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Women who are average in physics classes, on the other hand, are often better at other subjects. Barbara Oakley, WSJ, "Why Do Women Shun STEM? It’s Complicated," 13 July 2018 That exposure could jump even further as ice continues melting and ships become better at traversing Arctic waters, Hauser said. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "Ships Threaten Arctic Marine Mammals," 3 July 2018 Some firms are just better at developing new offerings than others. The Economist, "A new school in ChicagoHow regulators can prevent excessive concentration online," 28 June 2018 Second, help states become better at providing public goods, like the World Bank’s emphasis on good governance and the rule of law. Nikita Lalwani, Washington Post, "When is nationalism a good thing? When it unites an ethnically diverse citizenry," 26 June 2018 These jets, whose material moves at nearly the speed of light, could help astronomers better understand the long-ago era when the universe's first stars formed and began clumping together, researchers said. Fox News, "Superbright quasar could shed light on universe's youth," 10 July 2018 As someone who immigrated from Moscow 26 years ago, Itkin said that Americans do not know a lot about Russia, but encourages them to travel there to better understand it. Elizabeth Myong, Houston Chronicle, "Russians in Houston have diverse views on international affairs," 8 July 2018 When asked about book recommendations for somebody who wants to understand the Supreme Court better, Lithwick only offers one suggestion: One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson (who appeared on the podcast a few months ago). Emily Heller, Vox, "Dahlia Lithwick has been covering the Supreme Court for 20 years. Here’s the one book she says you need to read.," 2 July 2018 SUBSCRIBE TODAY Gathering more accurate data will help fire officials better understand the characteristics of deadly fires in North Carolina. Julianna Rennie, charlotteobserver, "There have been more NC fire deaths this year than in all of 2017. It's only June.," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Most betters are estimating that if the child is a girl, the couple will name her after Harry's late mother. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Already Talking Baby Names," 18 Oct. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Auxiliary verb

From Purple to Pangea, these revolutionary mattress companies have bettered our bed game for good. Jolie Peters, House Beautiful, "Here's What We're Excited About For 2018's Cyber Monday Mattress Deals," 1 Oct. 2018 The unscrupulous leader had no interest in bettering the lot of the poor. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Tyrant' examines the evidence of popular attraction to demagogues as seen in Shakepeare's plays," 15 May 2018 The people coming here to better their lives should not be treated like the criminals. David Weigel, Washington Post, "In Wisconsin, a Democratic star finds himself in a primary brawl," 9 July 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 With the £7m arrival of Scotland international Stuart Armstrong from Celtic, and Manchester City stopper Angus Gunn coming in for £13.5m, Saints are making moves to better their prior campaign after a nervy 17th place finish. SI.com, "Denmark International Jannik Vestergaard Completes Medical Ahead of £18m Move to Southampton," 12 July 2018 Independence with respect to the conduct – the day-to-day conduct of monetary policy leads to better economic outcomes. WSJ, "Transcript: Media Q&A With New York Fed President William Dudley," 15 June 2018 Shifting back to the longer-term benefits of getting good sleep on a regular basis, a study led by Eric Neufeld of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA offers a more direct test of the idea that better sleep leads to better fitness gains. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "What Athletes Can Learn From the Latest Sleep Research," 23 May 2018 The deal follows other moves from UMG suggesting the top U.S. label is looking to better position itself in the Chinese market. Colin Stutz, Billboard, "Universal Music Group Signs International Agreement with Chinese Superstar Kris Wu," 23 Apr. 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.

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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

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Statistics for better

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for better

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

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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.

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