least

adjective
\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 3)

superlative of little entry 1

1 : lowest in importance or position the least of my worries
2a : smallest in size or degree The least noise would startle her.
b : being a member of a kind distinguished by diminutive size the least bittern
c : smallest possible : slightest believed that the least government was the best government— Irving Stone

least

noun

Definition of least (Entry 2 of 3)

: one that is least
at least
1 : at the minimum at least once a week
2 : in any case at least you have a choice

least

adverb

Definition of least (Entry 3 of 3)

superlative of little entry 2

: in the smallest or lowest degree
least of all
: especially not no one, least of all the children, paid attention

Examples of least in a Sentence

Adverb Who was the least at fault in the case? He asked me to help him when I least expected it. That was the least important of her reasons. That was the least interesting book I have ever read.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Love in the time of coronavirus is possible -- at least for two giant pandas living in a Hong Kong zoo. Fox News, "Two giant pandas mate at empty Hong Kong zoo for first time after living together for a decade," 11 Apr. 2020 No one in the airline industry, at least, seems to think there is anymore. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "An Airline Bailout Should Have More Strings Attached Than a Harp," 11 Apr. 2020 The father, at least, would doubtless be deceased by now; the kids—there are actually two—would be nearing ninety. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "A Trove of Old Home Videos from MOMA, Now Available Online," 11 Apr. 2020 At the moment, most franchised and independent dealers are at least partially closed. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Buying a Car during the Pandemic? It May Be Harder Than You Think," 11 Apr. 2020 Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence already is considered the best college quarterback since at least Andrew Luck. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "If the NFL cancels the 2020 season, it should call on the NHL for help," 11 Apr. 2020 This perhaps would point to the idea that people are sticking to their standbys—at least from a categorical perspective—at this time. Rachel King, Fortune, "How the on-demand liquor delivery business changed overnight during the coronavirus pandemic," 11 Apr. 2020 So far, judges have ordered bans to be at least partially lifted everywhere but Texas. Kate Smith, CBS News, "U.S. Supreme Court asked to block Texas' abortion ban," 11 Apr. 2020 On Friday, Major League Baseball announced the World Series would be played on May 2 — virtually, at least. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Esports is surging while real-life action is shut down due to coronavirus," 10 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This is one of the ideas that have long made electoral politics a graveyard for the American left: the hope of a post-political, revolutionary campaign built on the backs of the voters most sympathetic to their cause and least likely to vote. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "After Bernie," 19 Mar. 2020 The scales will be tipped by those least connected to the political parties, and most connected to deliberative process. David Paleologos, USA TODAY, "Paleologos on the Poll: On Trump impeachment, watch the voters who haven't made up their minds," 29 Oct. 2019 Respondents were asked to rank 39 possible trends—25 of which were trends from previous years—from 1 (least likely to be a trend) to 10 (most likely to be a trend). Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "The Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2019, According to Fitness Pros," 1 Nov. 2018 Women nominated for Grammy Awards, for instance, were most likely to be recognized for best new artist or song of the year and least likely to be up for producer of the year. August Brown, latimes.com, "More than 90% of recent Grammy nominees are men, USC study finds," 25 Jan. 2018 As of now, the Power 5 league least likely to be represented in the playoff is the Pac-12, whose teams have steadily beaten each other; only one of its teams is ranked in The A.P.’s top 15. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "Could the College Football Playoff Shut Out 2 Power Conferences?," 30 Oct. 2017 A pre-emptive U.S. military blow can’t be ruled out, but such a strike carries great risk and is among his least likely options. Robert Burns, The Seattle Times, "Pre-emptive US strike on North Korea could be ‘catastrophic’," 6 July 2017 That propels her toward Rex, the bomb-sniffer least likely to be voted Mr. Canine Congeniality. Special To The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "“Megan Leavey” is a canine-human love story," 9 June 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Low-wage workers, who are disproportionately female, will be the least likely to be rehired, economists say. Samantha Schmidt, Anchorage Daily News, "Women have been hit hardest by job losses in the pandemic. And it may only get worse.," 11 May 2020 The question is, which populations are least likely to suffer from the additional risk? Fox News, "Ben Shapiro takes aim at critics of states reopening: 'I'm sorry, lockdown is not an alternative'," 8 May 2020 Meanwhile, some of Oregon’s smallest businesses might be the least likely to see any federal relief. oregonlive, "Federal loans won’t save American restaurants, Portland chefs say," 3 May 2020 The irony is that the people least likely to be counted are most likely to need the money and resources the census can help secure. Dan Horn, Cincinnati.com, "Will the pandemic shrink Cincinnati? It might if the census count keeps lagging," 24 Apr. 2020 Of all the Covid-prevention measures, the mass covering of faces is, at least visibly, among the most dramatic. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "We're headed for a faceless future as masks become the norm. That's a big security concern, experts say," 10 May 2020 The fact that at least one-third of those who have tested positive are no longer showing symptoms should be a source of encouragement, Landers said. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, "Third of positive cases in Alabama are recovered, or never had symptoms, says ADPH," 8 May 2020 One of California’s largest and least transparent transactions had been a nearly billion-dollar contract for protective masks from Chinese automaker BYD. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Back to business, not as usual," 7 May 2020 In other words: Even if dad, oh, perhaps, forgot, there would at least be something—a macaroni necklace, a Popsicle stick picture frame, a finger-paint portrait—to mark the occasion. Rachel Barrett, Country Living, "These Cheeky "Do Not Disturb" Door Hangers Will Win Mother's Day," 4 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'least.' 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 least

Adjective

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

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for least

Adjective, Noun, and Adverb

Middle English leest, from Old English lǣst, superlative of lǣssa less

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Time Traveler for least

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for least

Last Updated

14 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Least.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/least. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for least

least

adjective
How to pronounce least (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: smallest in amount or degree

least

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of least (Entry 2 of 2)

: in or to the smallest degree

least

adjective
\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Kids Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 3)

superlative of little

: smallest in size or degree The least noise startles her.

least

noun

Kids Definition of least (Entry 2 of 3)

: the smallest or lowest amount or degree I don't mind in the least.
at least
1 : not less or fewer than Read at least 20 pages.
2 : in any case At least you have a choice.

least

adverb

Kids Definition of least (Entry 3 of 3)

superlative of little

: in or to the smallest degree You arrived when I least expected you.

least

Medical Definition of least

superlative of little

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More from Merriam-Webster on least

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for least

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with least

Spanish Central: Translation of least

Nglish: Translation of least for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of least for Arabic Speakers

Comments on least

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