bet·​ter | \ ˈbe-tər How to pronounce better (audio) \

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


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



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



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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Synonyms & Antonyms for better

Synonyms: Verb

beat, eclipse, exceed, excel, outclass, outdistance, outdo, outgun, outmatch, outshine, outstrip, overtop, surpass, top, tower (over), transcend

Synonyms: Adverb


Synonyms: Noun

elder, senior, superior

Antonyms: Noun

inferior, subordinate, underling

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Choose the Right Synonym for better


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


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.


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.


“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.


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

Employees who organized last week’s unexpectedly massive 20,000-person walkout at Google offices worldwide are now pushing company leadership to institute new policy changes and put in place better protections for employees. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Google employees push back after mishandled sexual harassment revelations," 8 Nov. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The event, where the queen honors people bettering their communities, is a royal tradition dating back to the 1860s during Queen Victoria's reign. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice Hit Up the Queen's Garden Party in Style," 29 May 2019 The family wishes through its investigation to shed light on this epidemic and how to better the fight to save lives. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The Heirs to Music Superstar Prince's Estate Are Suing Walgreens Over His Death," 24 Apr. 2018 Scientists are trying to better model what happens inside the brain when the skull is hit. Brian Resnick, Vox, "What a lifetime of playing football can do to the human brain," 4 Feb. 2019 The striker finished 2017/18 with 41 goals to his name, including 30 in the Premier League which was bettered only by Liverpool's Mohamed Salah., "England Star Eric Dier Tips Club Teammate Harry Kane to Fire Three Lions to World Cup Glory," 29 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., "Wayne Rooney Backs Sam Allardyce But Admits Everton Need Stability This Summer," 30 Apr. 2018 Not only is Jen focused on her own children, but on bettering the lives of children across the globe. Emma Baty, Redbook, "Jennifer Garner Has No Plans On Dating Anytime Soon, Thank You Very Much," 31 May 2017 Asked which party would better address Americans with pre-existing conditions, 58 percent said Democrats versus 34 percent who said Republicans. James Freeman, WSJ, "Trump, Kavanaugh and McCain Drive Election Results," 7 Nov. 2018 The 23-year-old Colombian had already bettered Sagan in a sprint to take the opening stage, amid rising expectations since his four stage victories at last year’s Giro d’Italia. Joseph Wilson, The Seattle Times, "Gaviria beats Sagan again to claim 2nd Tour win on Stage 4," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Many women complain about the glass ceiling, even though young Vietnamese women are now better educated than men. The Economist, "Vietnam has one of the highest shares of women in work in the world," 8 June 2019 This is a fantastic song with which fans can better identify Dyson. 2. Richard Morin, azcentral, "The best and worst walk-up songs used by Arizona Diamondbacks players," 7 June 2019 Imagine that, but better, because the Line is clean and stylish and not actually your house. Hilary Cadigan, Bon Appétit, "Why I’ll Be Spending My Entire D.C. Vacation Inside the Line Hotel," 7 June 2019 The State Department says that resort areas tend to be better policed and safer that urban areas for travelers. Gina Martinez, Time, "5 U.S. Tourists Have Died in the Dominican Republic Since April. Should You Cancel Your Trip?," 7 June 2019 The offshore wind measure was designed to help the state better compete with neighboring states for offshore wind and the economic development that comes with it. Jan Ellen Spiegel,, "Environmental measures win quiet, but major, victories," 7 June 2019 That’s what these events are all about: celebrating, bringing people together and trying to make their lives a little bit better in the last few years of their life. Sergio Carmona,, "Holocaust survivors socialize, connect at Café Europa in Boca Raton," 7 June 2019 The Sealy expansion enables Gulf States Toyota to better serve 158 Toyota dealerships in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Katherine Feser, Houston Chronicle, "Real estate transactions: Avera launches next industrial project in Baytown," 7 June 2019 Striking teachers in Chile demanding better working conditions marched against the government of President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from Latin America, Caribbean," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In terms of arresting forward motion, the Camaro betters the Supra's 148-foot measurement by two feet. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "2020 Toyota Supra and Chevrolet Camaro V-6 1LE by the Numbers: A Tale of Two Sixes and an $18K Price Difference," 16 May 2019 Fans/betters are apparently still convinced that Meghan's having a girl, too. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Fans Are Convinced Meghan Markle Will Have Her Baby This Easter Weekend," 17 Apr. 2019 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., "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,, "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,, "Nobody likes the Oregon Project's Galen Rupp? Says who? Oregon track & field rundown," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Auxiliary verb

Established in 1999, Panda Cares is the company’s philanthropic arm committed to bettering the health and education of youths and communities in need. Panda Express, azcentral, "Good fortune is best when shared: Panda Express finds success through family," 6 June 2019 Blewett, who bettered Kingston by seven percentage points, will have another chance to unseat the three-term incumbent in Saturday's runoff. Corbett Smith, Dallas News, "Fight intensifies in second round of East Dallas City Council race between David Blewett, Philip Kingston," 6 June 2019 Although influential in 1998, eight of Brazil's 18 goals four years later came via The Phenomenon, a feat only bettered three times in the competition's 88-year history - Sándor Kocsis (1954), Just Fontaine (1958) and Müller (1970)., "World Cup Countdown: 4 Weeks to Go - A Career Overview of Brazil's 2002 World Cup Hero, Ronaldo," 27 May 2018 James’ basket made him the youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, bettering the previous record by Kobe Bryant. Matt Goul,, "LeBron's 30,000: 10 memorable regular-season baskets," 19 Jan. 2018 Today the American dream almost always refers to material advancement—each generation bettering itself, rising above humble beginnings. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘Behold, America’ Review: Fighting Words," 13 Dec. 2018 Two weeks later, Hull set the indoor school record in the mile with a time of 4:31.76 In fact, both Hull and Burdon, who crossed in 4:32.30, bettered the record of 4:32.61 Anne Kesselring had owned since 2012. Ken Goe,, "Oregon Ducks' record-setting Jessica Hull takes aim at the NCAA Indoor Championships," 6 Mar. 2018 Hornets: The 49-point first bettered a 47-point fourth quarter Charlotte had on Dec. 4, 1991 against the Los Angeles Lakers. ... USA TODAY, "Kemba's 41, record start help Hornets beat Pacers 133-126," 2 Feb. 2018 Scientists are trying to better model what happens inside the brain when the skull is hit. Brian Resnick, Vox, "What a lifetime of playing football can do to the human brain," 4 Feb. 2019

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


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


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


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


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, Verb, Adverb, Noun, and Auxiliary verb

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

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Time Traveler for better

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

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More Definitions for better



English Language Learners Definition of better

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: higher in quality
: more skillful
: more attractive, appealing, effective, useful, etc.



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)



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



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

: something that is better : better behavior


bet·​ter | \ ˈbe-tər How to pronounce better (audio) \

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.


bettered; bettering

Kids Definition of better (Entry 2 of 4)

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



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.



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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More from Merriam-Webster on better

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with better

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for better

Spanish Central: Translation of better

Nglish: Translation of better for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of better for Arabic Speakers

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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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