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


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

His record stood for 13 years, eventually bettered by just 11mph. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Bloodhound SSC: How do you build a car capable of 1,000mph?," 24 Nov. 2018 And in the meantime, surgeons are bettering our odds by screening to evaluate patients’ propensity for clots, encouraging the use of compression garments during and after surgery, and prescribing blood thinners when necessary. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "Life in Plastic: A Complete Guide to the "Mommy Makeover"," 16 July 2018 Now, the singer and father of one is focused on one thing — bettering the life of his family. Christina Dugan,, "Contestant Who Fled the Congo Gets a Second Chance at Being the Next American Idol," 1 Apr. 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,, "After 14 years in prison, ex-con fills out his first resume - and hopes," 12 June 2018 Hargrove argues Samaras was seeking answers to big questions in hopes of bettering society. Ian Livingston, Washington Post, "‘You can only roll the dice so many times:’ Tim Samaras lived life like a twister," 2 Apr. 2018 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 Bowyer had led just 145 combined laps the last four years and bettered that Monday with 215 laps led and his first career Martinsville victory. Jenna Fryer,, "Clint Bowyer ends 190-race drought," 27 Mar. 2018 Some media have reported that the government might better its timetable for returning the budget to surplus by the 2020-21 fiscal year by balancing the books 12 months earlier. Washington Post, "Australia to release budget with looming election in mind," 7 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

While the rich are getting better at adopting the lifestyle behaviors that lower their cancer risk, the poor lag behind. Julia Belluz, Vox, "We’re making real progress against cancer. But you may not know it if you’re poor.," 8 Jan. 2019 Now’s downsides include a lack of user profiles, lackluster app performance on some platforms (though this has gotten much better in recent weeks), and a DVR that only keeps your recordings around for 30 days. Chris Welch, The Verge, "The Verge Cord Cutter’s Guide: hardware, software, and services," 20 Dec. 2018 Hours later the results had gotten even better, revealing the glutathione glow that Kunin told me about. Jillian Ruffo, Glamour, "I Tried a Glow-Boosting IV Treatment to See If It'd Give Me Better Skin," 30 Nov. 2018 And as the royals prepare to travel to Fiji, New Zealand, and the Kingdom of Tonga in the coming days, their adorable PDA is only getting better. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Cradling Her Baby Bump on Fraser Island Is the Sweetest Thing You'll See All Day," 22 Oct. 2018 Whatever the reason for Doria's reported visit, Meghan better get the kettle on, British style. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle's Mother Doria Ragland is Reportedly on Her Way to London After Being Spotted at the Airport," 18 Sep. 2018 But Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are outstanding and seem to make everyone around them better–both have faces that express emotions subtly and beautifully, which is good since so many emotions are found in this exciting episode. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 9," 31 Dec. 2018 Something to make the world better and more positive. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Meet 'The Voice' Season 15 Top Four Finalists," 13 Dec. 2018 Making them bigger is, unfortunately, the only way to make things better, which is a bad fit for cell phones. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Awesome tiny gyroscope promising but not ready for prime time," 9 Nov. 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., "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 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

Other top performances from the area Friday came from Zionsville’s Tessa Wrightson, who turned in the best 100 backstroke time (:54.0), bettering her seed time of :54.92. Lewis Bagley, Indianapolis Star, "Carmel dominates on Day 1 of IHSAA girls swimming state finals," 9 Feb. 2018 Acker looked to better himself as a wrestler in the offseason by beginning to attend the Askren Wrestling Academy in the spring. Andrew Gruman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wauwatosa wrestler Cole Acker has been leader on the mat, and what he'll do next is something fewer than 10 percent of applicants achieve," 8 Jan. 2018 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 hope is that these 30 classes could be moved to a less-expensive software program that would better suit the needs of elementary school students and also save a little money for the district. Alyssa Alfano,, "Medina school board plans for levy and other changes within district," 6 Feb. 2018 His record stood for 13 years, eventually bettered by just 11mph. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Bloodhound SSC: How do you build a car capable of 1,000mph?," 24 Nov. 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 Melchiorre told the judge that a three-year sentence reduction was appropriate, given Downey’s efforts to better himself in prison and the fact the conviction for murder was his first crime. David Owens,, "Judge Shaves Four Years Off Simsbury Man's 50-Year Sentence For Murder," 24 Apr. 2018 Bowyer had led just 145 combined laps the last four years and bettered that Monday with 215 laps led and his first career Martinsville victory. Jenna Fryer,, "Clint Bowyer ends 190-race drought," 27 Mar. 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


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 \

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 settle judicially or to act as judge

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