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

Guzmán became convinced that Mao’s vision of peasant revolt better fit Peruvian social conditions than would an urban avant-garde. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Her two-night total of 118.5 points, including a Sunday performance that bettered her Friday score by 1.2 points, led first-year senior competitor Sunisa Lee of St. Paul, Minn., by 4.95 points. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Simone Biles wins record 6th all-around title," 11 Aug. 2019 While the volume of gallivanting that goes on may have decreased, with Higuain actually bettering him in terms of dribbles per-game in 2018/19, there's no question as to who a defender would rather have steaming towards them with ball in-tow. 2-1., "Gonzalo Higuain or Diego Costa: Assessing Who Would Be a Better Option to Lead the Line at Man Utd," 22 July 2019 Proponents say parole is a way to allow offenders who have made strides toward bettering themselves transition into the free world under supervision, as long as the victim gets their say. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s secretive parole board has almost unlimited power to release prisoners before their sentences are up. It has never been busier.," 17 June 2018 But Hulu’s revival completely switches up the dynamics of their relationship by having Logan bettering himself through years of hard work in therapy. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "All the best LoVe scenes in Veronica Mars, including Hulu's revival season," 20 July 2019 Friend and Highland Park Council member Chris Woodward could also see Porter's interest in bettering Highland Park, starting at a young age. Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "Family, community pay tribute to late former Highland Park Mayor Linsey Porter," 28 June 2019 Generation after generation, white Americans have bettered their lots in life, building upon those who went before them. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Lining Louisville Rev. Kevin Cosby's pockets with $9M does not count as reparations," 21 June 2019 Her finish at the Isle of Wight bettered two previous world bests. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Dale Greig, Early Women’s Marathoner, Is Dead at 81," 16 June 2019 Starting a journey to better the lives of children dealing with a disease that doesn’t discriminate … in Minnesota. Chris Tomasson, Twin Cities, "Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph to ink four-year, $36 million extension, lower cap number," 10 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

To better understand possible conflicts, the city will contract with an acoustic engineer to conduct sound studies and analyze the results. Lila Seidman, Glendale News-Press, "Downtown Glendale could get its groove on longer, as city officials consider extending music hours," 2 Aug. 2019 Natalie Wynn, better known as her persona ContraPoints, tells The Verge. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "YouTube videos keep getting longer," 26 July 2019 Canada came through the global financial crisis better than America did, in part because its banks are prudent, well-regulated and untroubled by excessive competition. The Economist, "EconomyRedistribution and innovation drive Canada’s changing economy," 25 July 2019 For more than two decades, astrophysicists have been tracking the movements of S0-2 to better understand the workings of gravity and put Einstein’s theory to the test. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "A Star Orbiting in the Extreme Gravity of a Black Hole Validates General Relativity," 25 July 2019 Adding the $200 Visa Prepaid card on top of that makes the deal even better. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Dealmaster: Prime members get 1-year Audible membership plus $20 credit for $119," 25 July 2019 Meghan Markle may be better known as the Duchess of Sussex these days, but her acting career isn't too far behind her. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Joked About Her Acting Career at The Lion King Premiere," 23 July 2019 Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, is unlike many other animation studios. Julia Webster, Time, "A Fire at Kyoto Animation Killed 33 People. Here's What to Know About the Deadly Arson Attack in Japan," 19 July 2019 Playing with trash In many ways, this trip served as an experiment: Natural Habitat needed to see if zero-waste travel was doable for their other trips, and WWF wanted to better understand the intersection of tourism and sustainability. Ali Wunderman, Condé Nast Traveler, "What I Learned on the World's First Zero-Waste Trip," 19 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As of Monday, betters can wager on 28 on the sport's most prestigious rivalries. J.l. Kirven, Detroit Free Press, "College football head-to-head spreads: Michigan favored by 2½ wins vs. MSU," 22 July 2019 The Electoral College created a sort of board of our betters that would approve or disapprove the choices of the electorate. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "The Crisis of Our Constitution," 10 Jan. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Auxiliary verb

Coulibaly sees it as a chance to better her life, maybe even to rise into the middle class. Anemona Hartocollis,, "Less waste and more schools, one plastic brick at a time," 27 July 2019 Was their education bettered simply by contact with white people? Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 2019 Many fans and Formula 1 insiders thought the German's landmark would never be bettered, not even by the all-conquering hero himself when Schumacher made a shock return to the sport with Mercedes in 2010. Sarah Holt, CNN, "British Grand Prix: Can Lewis Hamilton overtake Michael Schumacher in Formula 1's record books?," 11 July 2019 Elise Cranny, also a member of the Bowerman Track Club, won the women’s 1,500 from way in front in 4:06.03, which betters the qualifying standard for this year’s World Outdoor Championships in Doha, Qatar., "Smooth, confident, in control, Olympic champ Matthew Centrowitz rocks the Stumptown Twilight," 19 July 2019 Society only owes us the same opportunities to better our conditions (through talent and hard work) that most people enjoy and take for granted. Jack Bragen, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Those of us with psychiatric illness deserve opportunity," 11 July 2019 Friend and Highland Park Council member Chris Woodward could also see Porter's interest in bettering Highland Park, starting at a young age. Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "Family, community pay tribute to late former Highland Park Mayor Linsey Porter," 28 June 2019 But in her personal life, the activist keeps it more low-key, focusing on her health and bettering the planet. Taylore Glynn, Marie Claire, "Rosario Dawson on Meditation, Skincare Secrets, and the Health Habit She Shares with Cory Booker," 7 June 2019 That was a reference to Vargas, who held the Dodgers to one run in seven innings last week in Los Angeles and bettered that against the Giants with a fastball that struggles to reach 86 mph. Henry Schulman,, "Giants fall to Mets as Tyler Beede fails to repeat solid Miami performance," 5 June 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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Statistics for better

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

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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).


a period when something is suspended

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