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

Analysts say settling all these cases could be the largest non-war aviation reinsurance claim on record, and could run up to at least $1 billion according to a Bloomberg Intelligence estimate. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Boeing is dedicating $100 million to families and communities affected by the 737 Max crashes," 3 July 2019 This beef, like so many others on The Hills: New Beginnings, may not be totally squashed, but at least Mischa stood her ground. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Why Are Mischa Barton and Perez Hilton Feuding on 'The Hills: New Beginnings'?," 2 July 2019 The performance art sequences, which can so easily come across as risible when filmed, are sensitively choreographed and shot here, and are therefore able to retain at least some of their original punch. Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter, "'This Is Not Berlin' ('Esto no es Berlin'): Film Review," 29 June 2019 But not all roads are created equal—at least not for cooking eggs. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "Attempting to Fry an Egg on the Sidewalk Has Been a Summer Pastime for Over 100 Years," 4 July 2019 And quite a bit of political science research indicates that persuasion is among the least of those powers. David Roberts, Vox, "We might get a climate debate after all. Here are 10 questions to ask candidates.," 3 July 2019 Not all the people experienced symptoms associated with CTE, at least according to their medical records. Sabine Galvis, Science | AAAS, "Even if you don’t play contact sports, you could develop signs of traumatic brain injury," 3 July 2019 The number of lawsuits Methodist files isn’t out of proportion to its size, at least compared to competitor Baptist Memorial Health Care and Regional One Health, the county’s public hospital. Wendi C. Thomas, ProPublica, "Nonprofit Christian Hospital Suspends Debt Collection Lawsuits Amid Furor Over Suing Its Own Employees," 3 July 2019 The state’s most competitive institutions, the University of Florida and Florida State University, were among the least likely to take students who didn’t meet state requirements. Annie Martin, orlandosentinel.com, "Admissions to Florida’s public universities are getting more competitive. But schools still admit students lacking basic qualifications.," 2 July 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

Dealing a guard would at least free up a roster spot to give the Spurs additional flexibility during their own free agency chase. Nick Talbot, ExpressNews.com, "Writers’ Roundtable: How is NBA Free Agency going to play out?," 29 June 2019 Marianne Williamson: 'Love will win' over Trump Marianne Williamson may have been the least known of all candidates on the debate stage on Thursday. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Harris challenging Biden on race and Castro blasting Beto on immigration: These are the top moments from the Democratic debates," 28 June 2019 The China National Space Administration has said that at least its next three probes will head to the poles as well. Adam Mann, Scientific American, "The New Scramble for the Moon," 26 June 2019 There are plenty of places to rent rafts, tubes, and kayaks for a day spent on the water, which is least crowded during the week. Kristi Valentini, Woman's Day, "These Summer Vacation Spots Are the Hidden Gems of the Midwest," 25 June 2019 Well, the first wave of Bourbon County labels have been approved for 2019 and there are at least a couple of eyebrow-raisers among them. Josh Noel, chicagotribune.com, "Goose Island's 2019 Bourbon County beer lineup emerging — or is it? Some labels are probably fakes.," 11 June 2019 Perhaps the closure is simply a sign of the times; many of today's rising power brokers may be happier making a deal over a Sweetgreen salad than a lunch whose least expensive entree option is a $36 tuna burger. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "The Four Seasons Restaurant Is Closing, Less Than a Year After Moving to a New Location," 10 June 2019 The Naperville bat is among at least a couple other rabid bats found in Will County this year, said Steve Brandy, spokesman for the Will County Health Department. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Rabid bat removed from Naperville home," 11 June 2018 Unless something, such as military activity in the Persian Gulf, pushes oil prices higher, ethanol plants will start to shut down with the highest-cost, least-efficient ones idling first. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Oil prices, war, and a bad corn crop," 23 June 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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