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

Ms Shirazi recalled that Pervez Musharraf, the general who toppled Mr Sharif in 1999, had at least allowed journalists to cover the return from exile in 2007 of Benazir Bhutto, another powerful civilian leader feared by the army. The Economist, "Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan, and jail," 14 July 2018 In Camden, there are at least a dozen, mostly in the small business districts on Mount Ephraim Avenue and Haddon Avenue. Jan Hefler, Philly.com, "$18,000 in tuition and 1,200 hours of study for a license to braid hair? New Jersey lawmakers say no," 13 July 2018 So at least for those allies that don’t shirk their responsibilities, Mr. Trump’s America should remain a reliable partner. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 That’s according to the movie’s cinematographer, Trent Opaloch — or at least his online resume. Ben Meyerson, RedEye Chicago, "Jay-Z and Trayvon Martin, Amazon and Toys R Us, and more conversation starters for your weekend," 13 July 2018 They are designed to limit employers’ exposure to big damage awards while guaranteeing at least some help for a family after the loss of a breadwinner. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Firefighters protect us. Who protects them?," 13 July 2018 At least once a year, the Clines travel to India to present design workshops for the new collections and check in on the lives of the 130 seamstresses Anchal employs. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "These one-of-a-kind textiles are empowering Louisville women," 13 July 2018 New rides Perhaps the most popular of the State Fair's attractions - at least among kids and kids-at-heart - is the fair's carnival area, which offers everything from spooky houses to the giant Ferris wheel. Daniel Wilson, sacbee, "What’s new at the California State Fair? Here’s everything you need to know," 13 July 2018 Her publicly expressed lack of concern wasn't focused on some specific aspect of her role - perhaps one with which the public could even empathize or at least understand. Robin Givhan, Houston Chronicle, "Nothing else Melania Trump wears will ever matter again," 13 July 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

May emerged as the least objectionable alternative. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Did Trump Just Help Stop Brexit?," 13 July 2018 The verdict This was our least-favorite burger of the Seattle Top Four (with an important caveat — see the Dick’s entry). Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "Seattle’s top 4 burger spots — ranked by Seattle Times critics," 10 July 2018 Throughout this period, the biggest boost from union membership has gone to the least educated workers, who have, in turn, driven the rise and fall of union membership. Susan Dynarski, New York Times, "Fresh Proof That Strong Unions Help Reduce Income Inequality," 6 July 2018 In what was probably its least unexpected ruling, written by the least unexpected justice, the Supreme Court on Wednesday delivered a blow to public workers for which the right wing has been thirsting for decades. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "With Janus ruling, Supreme Court seals a 40-year campaign to eviscerate worker rights," 27 June 2018 Industry experts expect this level of growth to continue for at least another year or two. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Aardvark paper straws: This Fort Wayne company has your plastic straw alternative," 24 June 2018 To my mind, this is both the least likely answer to Fermi’s Paradox and the only one that fits all the evidence currently available to astrophysicists. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "But, Seriously, Where Is Everybody?," 22 June 2018 The least predictable geyser in the park is Steamboat. Jamie Yuccas, CBS News, "Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser keeps erupting, and scientists want to know why," 20 June 2018 Baseball America ranked the Mets’ system 27th entering 2018, and their top four position-player prospects according to MLB.com are all at least a year away. Jack Dickey, SI.com, "The New York Mets Could Try to Rebuild, But Why Would We Trust Them to Do That?," 11 June 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

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

Noun

see least entry 1

Adverb

see least entry 1

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Statistics for least

Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

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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Comments on least

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