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

The multiverse theory The least messy way to merge these two franchises is to create a multiverse. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "What's Next for the X-Men After Dark Phoenix?," 7 June 2019 There were so many variables in the ultimate success of D-day, not the least of which was the weather. Catharine Hamm, latimes.com, "Escapes: On D-day, we remember the man who bore the weight of the world," 6 June 2019 To put it another way, what is the least Trumpian, most Trumpism-defeating way to try to insure that Trump is not President for another term? Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Debate About the Best Way to Get Donald Trump Out of Office," 6 June 2019 Yusuke Fukuda and Sam Banks, biologists from Australia, traveled in March to East Timor, one of the world’s least developed countries, to investigate what has become a national mystery: Why are so many Timorese being killed by crocodiles? Matthew Abbott, New York Times, "The Revered Crocodiles of This Island Nation Have Suddenly Started Killing People," 6 June 2019 Female children consume the least and male adults consume the most, the team reveals in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Americans May Be Ingesting Thousands of Microplastics Every Year," 6 June 2019 This can be a confusing dispute to follow, not least because of the political stakes. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "How many Americans live on $2 a day? The biggest debate in poverty research, explained.," 5 June 2019 After Game 3, Blues coach Craig Berube griped over the number of whistles that went against his players (14) after St. Louis had been the least penalized team through the first three rounds of the postseason. Isabelle Khurshudyan, The Denver Post, "Stanley Cup Final shows there’s still room for “heavy” hockey in NHL," 4 June 2019 The primary reason millennials are the least financially secure generation in a century is that over the past few decades the cost of living has skyrocketed, but our wages haven’t. Ankur Jain, Marie Claire, "Millennials Are Generation Broke—Here's How We Fix It," 21 May 2019

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

Further rounds will be held on June 18, 19 and 20 if needed, with the least popular candidate eliminated each time. Washington Post, "What next for tumultuous UK Brexit path as May steps down?," 8 June 2019 House State Affairs Committee co-chair Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, said in an interview that Alaska is probably the least likely state for the concepts to work because of the state’s struggling private health insurance market. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Dunleavy administration awards contract for study of Medicaid block grant proposal," 6 June 2019 That's according to personal-finance website WalletHub, which claims Texas is the 5th least safe state in the nation. Darla Guillen Gilthorpe, Houston Chronicle, "Texas is the 5th least safe state in the US," 4 June 2019 In The Big Bang Theory's series finale—which took place over two episodes tonight, May 16—the least shocking development was when Amy and Sheldon took home the Nobel in Physics for Super-Asymmetry. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Big Bang Theory," 17 May 2019 According to the least aggressive climate models, that’s slated to double preindustrial levels, reaching 560 ppm by 2050. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Are We Really in Danger of the Clouds Disappearing? The New Study Explained.," 27 Feb. 2019 The least expensive lot in Golden Beach is about twice the lot price in Golden Isles, while the least expensive house in Golden Beach is currently $2.3 million for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom on 2,660 square feet. Nancy Keates, WSJ, "This Once-Scruffy Beach Town Is South Florida’s New Real Estate Hot Spot," 13 Feb. 2019 It is backstopped, at least on the ESF concept, by car-to-X communication. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "If You Crash a Mercedes-Benz in the Future, It Could Deploy a Robot to Warn Other Drivers," 21 May 2019 Akuete got plenty of exposure to the world of shea butter production while spending her summer breaks with her mother in Ghana, but Eugenia’s passion for shea butter wasn’t contagious—at least not at first. Baze Mpinja, Vogue, "This Ghanaian-American Entrepreneur Started a Shea Butter Business Inspired by Her Mom," 10 May 2019

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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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 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

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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