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

Run line: Get better value on Boston at a ripe +115 to cover the -1.5 runs and win by two or more behind the strength of a much better offense. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays odds, picks and betting tips," 11 Sep. 2019 Sure, the Astros, Yankees, Indians and maybe even the struggling-but-still-able defending champion Boston Red Sox — all better teams with better pitching on paper — await in the playoffs. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: On mental illness, dissing prosecutors and some bandwagon Twins fans …," 17 Aug. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Students learn early in life the importance of committing the time, talents and resources to better the lives of the less fortunate, to make life better for the greater community, to give of themselves for a cause greater than themselves. Hermine Saunders,, "Saunders: Plenty of time to make our age number valuable and our lives meaningful," 9 Aug. 2019 India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor. Sugam Pokharel, CNN, "Sushma Swaraj, India's former foreign minister, dies at 67," 6 Aug. 2019 Was their education bettered simply by contact with white people? Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 2019 Views come and views go, but this one won’t have anything intervening for a very long time; bettered still by the sellers, who reportedly trimmed the vista with another $300,000 in festooning their yard. Mark Samuelson, The Denver Post, "With a premium half-acre site overlooking Fox Hollow and foothills, ranch is $1.5M," 7 June 2019 The goal of a campaign isn’t just to elect a worthy candidate, but to elect an official who will enact legislation to better their constituents’ lives. Hadiya Afzal, Teen Vogue, "Here’s Why Members of Congress Including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar Give Me Hope," 7 Jan. 2019 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 There's nothing better than helping somebody who wants to better their life by getting their high school diploma. Aleks Kang, USA TODAY, "Many aren’t aware of free adult education classes to finish high school," 22 May 2018 In a sentencing memo, Drous argued that her client was relatively uninvolved in the scheme, had suffered from PTSD growing up and had taken steps to better himself while on pretrial release, including getting a job at a Berkeley lumber yard. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Man gets federal prison in Mexico/Antioch meth trafficking case," 7 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Sophomore Bryson Williams is better prepared for the rigors of playing nose tackle. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "South Florida's new offensive scheme should be a good test for UW's defense, which struggled in 2018," 29 Aug. 2019 With the wisdom of your older work friends, you’ll be better prepared for whatever comes next. Matthew De Silva, Quartz at Work, "Why you should spend time with older colleagues outside of work," 29 Aug. 2019 Retrofit standards have significantly improved since the 1990s, and today’s computing technology allows engineers far better tools to identify flaws in a building’s design, Filippou added. Los Angeles Times, "Earthquakes could kill people in many UCLA, UC Berkeley buildings, officials say," 29 Aug. 2019 Playing for Pagano, Brissett was similar to Luck in accuracy, significantly worse at throwing touchdowns, avoiding sacks and getting the ball downfield, and better at avoiding interceptions. Nat Newell, Indianapolis Star, "Why Jacoby Brissett is capable of being the Colts starting quarterback," 29 Aug. 2019 Their two outfits were distinctively different, but even better when combined. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Lenny and Zoë Kravitz Prove They’re the Coolest Father-Daughter Duo," 29 Aug. 2019 O'Connell said the policy will work toward equal enforcement of laws along racial lines and allow his office to better use its limited resources. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "Which marijuana cases will be prosecuted? We get into the weed on new Louisville policy," 28 Aug. 2019 But as increasing levels of air pollution darkened trees with soot, the moths adapted, adopting darker coloring to better correspond with their environment. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "These Caterpillars Can Detect Color Using Their Skin Not Their Eyes," 27 Aug. 2019 Anything that needs to be creative or designed, or made to sound better is what I’m tasked with. Lulu Graham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Outfit Dissecting with Elizabeth Mashburn," 26 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Meanwhile, pet ownership in general reduces stress, betters our self-esteem and makes us more social. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "Dogs help the people who own them maintain a healthier heart, a study finds," 23 Aug. 2019 Like the revolutionaries of 1789, those in the contemporary French third estate (the commoners) have been stirred by the hypocrisy of their betters. Joel Kotkin, National Review, "The Return to Serfdom," 25 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Auxiliary verb

The singer is back in the limelight and working on bettering herself. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Demi Lovato Posts Unedited Bikini Photo Flaunting Her Cellulite," 6 Sep. 2019 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 To those who love and support Aaron, that’s what is keeping him motivated to better himself. Fox News, "Boy loses most of hand on 10th birthday after neighbor gives him lit firework: report," 21 July 2019 Dillon’s mother, Jessyca Gatewood-Campbell, worked as many as five jobs, teaching, waitressing, studying for her master’s degree, to better herself and keep things together in New London. Dom Amore,, "Dom Amore: New London’s AJ Dillon primed to resume football stardom at Boston College," 12 Aug. 2019 In a sentencing memo, Drous argued that her client was relatively uninvolved in the scheme, had suffered from PTSD growing up and had taken steps to better himself while on pretrial release, including getting a job at a Berkeley lumber yard. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Man gets federal prison in Mexico/Antioch meth trafficking case," 7 Aug. 2019 So, with postseason hopes fading, here’s a simple beat writer’s thoughts on what Colorado should be doing to better itself for 2020. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Newman: Rockies’ season expectations revised amid dimming playoff hopes," 24 July 2019 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

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

14 Sep 2019

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



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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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