least

1 of 3

adjective

superlative of little entry 1

1
: lowest in importance or position
It's least on my list of worries.
2
a
: 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 governmentIrving Stone

least

2 of 3

noun

: one that is least

least

3 of 3

adverb

superlative of little entry 2

: in the smallest or lowest degree
Phrases
at least
1
: at the minimum
at least once a week
2
: in any case
at least you have a choice
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
First, the United States should abandon its refusal (at least as of this writing) to call for a cease-fire and seek an end to the war in Gaza and the return of Israeli hostages as quickly as possible. Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Taste is opening an Arlington location, 200 N. Cooper St. The concept has been in Arlington at least 15 years. Bud Kennedy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 19 Feb. 2024 Authorities are investigating suspicions that at least some of the fires were set intentionally. Bryan Pietsch, Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2024 What’s your distribution strategy now that your direct-to-consumer service has been available in all your markets for at least a year? Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Feb. 2024 The way that McIntyre is pushed on Raw, however, indicates that WWE is, at the very least, extremely confident that McIntyre is staying. Blake Oestriecher, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 The source was referring to the royal family also losing the services of William’s wife, Kate Middleton, until at least after Easter. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 18 Feb. 2024 Well, one of my characters was the least intelligent girl in the graduating class, and somebody had made a mistake in calculating the valedictorian. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 18 Feb. 2024 At least half the homes where the refugees took shelter were bombed. Marc Santora Tyler Hicks, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2024
Noun
The dish was created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel by chef Fred K. Schmidt after guests got bored with traditional ham and egg suppers (or so legend says, at leasts). Rae Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 28 Mar. 2023 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
Adverb
Stray Kids’ album Rock-Star has been named a gold release, after shifting at least 500,000 equivalent units in America. Hugh McIntyre, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 For instance, New York requires at least one year of experience but is more specific about the type of work that qualifies. Bryce Welker, Miami Herald, 21 Feb. 2024 Khan has since been jailed and sentenced to at least 14 years in prison on multiple charges, including corruption and revealing state secrets. Sophia Saifi, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024 Officials have indicated that humanitarian aid is now the biggest problem, with Hamas demanding that at least 500 trucks enter Gaza daily. Karen Deyoung, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2024 The bank is still tackling a company-wide gender pay gap of 30% and pursuing its goal of placing women in at least 35% of senior executive roles by 2025. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 21 Feb. 2024 Ranney said Pets for Life has been coming to the library for at least 15 years. Beth Lipoff, Kansas City Star, 21 Feb. 2024 To create this map The Bee analyzed the 284 adult-use retail dispensaries that were issued licenses by early March in the state by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and found: 30 percent of the state is within 30 miles of at least one dispensary. Brad Branan and Nathaniel Levine, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 For his part, Winston has won at least one Primetime Emmy in each of the last eight years. Paul Grein, Billboard, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'least.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective, Noun, and Adverb

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near least

Cite this Entry

“Least.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/least. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

least

1 of 3 adjective
1
: lowest in importance or position
2
: smallest in size or degree

least

2 of 3 noun
: one that is least : something of the lowest possible value or importance

least

3 of 3 adverb
: in the smallest or lowest degree

Medical Definition

least

superlative of little

More from Merriam-Webster on least

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