least

adjective
\ ˈlēst \

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

Oftentimes, layering foundation on top of an already wind-chapped visage is a recipe for disaster (or, at the very least, an unsightly, cakey complexion). Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "Say Goodbye to Winter Redness With These 6 CC Creams," 16 Jan. 2019 Here are 30 brilliant things every woman should do alone at least once in her life: 1. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Woman's Day, "30 Fun Things to Do By Yourself in Your Lifetime," 3 Jan. 2019 Seeing Amy Sherman-Palladino without her trademark top hat is unexpected, to say the least—like observing a particularly ebullient peacock sans opulent plumage. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 9 Dec. 2018 At the very least, Hulu’s interest in the show ended up pushing the price up well beyond the $30 million a year Netflix was already paying for it. Peter Kafka, Recode, "The story behind Netflix’s $100 million ‘Friends’ deal," 5 Dec. 2018 Seated inside the commons room of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, this group of women in their 60s and 70s at least have each other. Marcus Harrison Green, The Seattle Times, "Grandparents raising grandkids say they need more help from Washington state," 28 Dec. 2018 That could mean a lot of hearings, or at least inquiries, about the president’s past ties to Russia, and if the Trump Organization’s business dealings around the world have any effect on his foreign policy. Alex Ward, Vox, "Democrats won the House — and Trump’s foreign policy may be in trouble," 7 Nov. 2018 Or at least that was the first adage that came to mind upon a quick scroll through Instagram yesterday, which found the icon sharing a throwback capture of herself in the buff, the snap accompanied by a timeless message of empowerment. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Madonna’s Nude Throwback Instagram Proves She Is the Original Sex Positive Girl," 20 Dec. 2018 Each time, pushback has come from the wider community, and so far, at least, the result has been industry standards that wrest control from Google's hands. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to," 17 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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

Proponents extoll the benefits of drinking celery juice on an empty stomach and avoiding cross-contamination with other green vegetables to maximize the curative, mystical powers of celery in its least wholesome form: juice. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Celery Juice "Benefits" Are Total B.S., According to Nutrition Science," 16 Jan. 2019 In other words, the urban farmers were losing money, at least by traditional accounting measures. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Urban farms could be incredibly efficient—but aren’t yet," 27 Dec. 2018 Out of a list of 18 issues, Democrats ranked immigration least important; Republicans ranked it most important. Ian Lovett, WSJ, "Illegal Immigration to the U.S. Hit a Low Point in 2016," 27 Nov. 2018 At least as important as mastering the supply chain side of the retail equation is understanding and knowing one’s customer — a challenge that most retailers currently fall far short of. Hilary George-parkin, Vox, "The technology behind bitcoin is coming for retail, and you probably won’t even notice.," 18 Oct. 2018 As for outdoor amenities, free parking ranked higher than pools, and gyms were found to be the least desirable (it was placed last by 58% of travelers). Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "Airbnb Plus Reveals the Amenities Travelers Really Care About," 28 Aug. 2018 Ken Trump, a national school safety consultant in Cleveland, said the cost of the machine is the least important aspect of implementing metal detectors. Meryl Kornfield, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Parents buy metal detectors for schools as campaign kicks off to keep kids safe," 6 June 2018 Getty ImagesPool/Samir Hussein Crete Wicker Clutch Kayu shopbop.com $218.07 Shop Now The least expensive item? Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Here's What Meghan Markle's Bags Cost This Year, If You Want to Copy Her Style," 2 Jan. 2019 Unsurprisingly, the Lannisters from Game of Thrones were among the least desirable, only surpassed in unpopularity by the Simpsons, who earned the number-one spot for least desirable neighbors on TV. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "These Are The Most Desirable Neighbors On TV, According To Zillow," 14 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for least

Last Updated

21 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for least

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

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More Definitions for least

least

adjective

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 \

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

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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