\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Definition of least

 (Entry 1 of 3)

superlative of little entry 1

1 : lowest in importance or position It's least on my list of 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



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



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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Yet the best strategy in moments of volatility like this one, financial advisers say, is also one of the least satisfying: Do nothing. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, 3 May 2022 Don’t jeopardize your best customer to keep your least critical ones. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 2 May 2022 But the takeaway is that earbuds need cleaning, not least of all because dirty earbuds can lead to ear infections by literally forcing germs into your ear canal. Terry Baddoo, USA TODAY, 2 May 2022 But the wall restoration project gave the villagers greater trust in the authorities — not least because Dr. Khamisy was the main intermediary between the village and the government. New York Times, 30 Apr. 2022 Russian aggression and brutality thereby provide a rationale for discounting bothersome historical complexities dating from prior to, during, and after the existence of the Soviet Union, the reckless folly of NATO expansion not least among them. Andrew J. Bacevich, The New Republic, 29 Apr. 2022 There’s also the fact that Depp is highly beloved by his digital fanbase, not least because of his role in the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. Chris Stokel-walker, Time, 29 Apr. 2022 The first quarter is traditionally the period with the least US air travel, and the fourth quarter is one of the busiest. Chris Isidore, CNN, 28 Apr. 2022 The three remaining bids advanced by the city may represent the path of least resistance for a Chicago casino. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 28 Apr. 2022 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 9 June 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Commonwealth Fund found that Americans were least likely to have a primary care physician, a place of care or a longstanding relationship with a health care provider. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2022 In the same vein, two age-discrepant generations, Gen Z'ers and those from the Silent Generation are least likely to report having ever used cannabis. Iris Dorbian, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Young Latter-day Saints were among the least likely, however, at 36%, to say that spending time with family provides a great deal of fulfillment in their lives. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Salt Lake Tribune, 23 Apr. 2022 Or by scheduling meetings on Mondays and Fridays, when people are least likely to come in. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Those at the lower end of the income scale are the least likely to be able to save or invest it — just a quarter of those earning under $50,000 a year will be doing so. Fred Backus, CBS News, 18 Apr. 2022 The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated already-existing divides: immigrants and people of color were the least likely to be able to work remotely. Ingrid Cruz, refinery29.com, 14 Apr. 2022 The people least likely to leave were White workers. Jen Christensen, CNN, 8 Apr. 2022 The first night of Sweet 16 action saw two No. 1 seeds, Gonzaga and Arizona, sent packing, while Houston, perhaps the Final Four participant from last year least likely to return, live to fight another day. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of least


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


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

Learn More About least

Time Traveler for least

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near least



least bittern

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Statistics for least

Last Updated

5 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Least.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/least. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for least


\ 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.



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.



Kids Definition of least (Entry 3 of 3)

superlative of little

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


Medical Definition of least

superlative of little

More from Merriam-Webster on least

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for least

Nglish: Translation of least for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of least for Arabic Speakers


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