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 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

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 All residents who are not isolating and who are not working from home are asked to get a test at least once a week. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Slovakia Offers a Lesson in How Rapid Testing Can Fight COVID," 8 Apr. 2021 At least once a week, Simpson narrates a video from a golf course or from what looks like an expensive home. New York Times, "Where Even O.J. Simpson Can Judge You," 8 Apr. 2021 Authority for the office was moved two years ago from the mayor to an independent oversight board that’s supposed to meet at least once a year and review the performance of the inspector general. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore NAACP chapter demands meeting of inspector general oversight board after Marilyn Mosby investigation," 7 Apr. 2021 The events that led to his impeachment had a significant impact at least once during his time in Congress. Anthony Man, sun-sentinel.com, "Congressman Alcee Hastings, after career of triumph, calamity and comeback, dies at 84," 6 Apr. 2021 At least once a day, a masked man with shaggy hair walks into Mike Moriello’s Saugus, Mass., barber shop. Rachel Louise Ensign, WSJ, "Your Pandemic Haircut Is a Hot Mess. Your Barber Is Thrilled.," 6 Apr. 2021 Arrowood countered that Carpenter had been engaging in Internet chats with ISIS terrorists in his mother's home and, at least once, on her computer. Jamie Satterfield, USA TODAY, "Tennessee man accused of being 'pro-ISIS' media representative for terrorists," 6 Apr. 2021 The tech platform was part of the Compass pitch, too, and the company claims that 88 percent of its agents use its software at least once a week. Reeves Wiedeman, Curbed, "What If Compass Is Basically Just Like Every Other Real-Estate Brokerage?," 6 Apr. 2021 In her order, Ramirez required the Kuykendalls to provide their itinerary to their pretrial services officer in advance and check in with the officer at least once during the trip. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Charged with a federal crime? Don’t start packing bags for beach resort vacation," 5 Apr. 2021 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, "After Bernie," 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, "Paleologos on the Poll: On Trump impeachment, watch the voters who haven't made up their minds," 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, "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 At the other end of the spectrum, the group least likely to reject the vaccine were atheists. David Fleshler, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida evangelical Christians reflect national divide on COVID vaccine," 10 Apr. 2021 Research has shown that Asian Americans are the least likely group to be promoted into management roles. Daniel Bentley, Fortune, "Recognizing patterns: reflections on anti-Asian sentiments in business," 8 Apr. 2021 Adults who do not plan to get vaccinated are the least likely to socially isolate, with 23% in this category, the poll found. Julie Washington, cleveland, "Deadline moving to April 19 for all U.S. adults to be vaccine-eligible; soap and water can fight virus on surfaces: Coronavirus update for April 7, 2021," 7 Apr. 2021 In response to these findings, Hotez became a regular on radio talk shows that would reach people least likely to trust the vaccines. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "How Can We Continue to Keep Schools Relatively Safe from the Coronavirus?," 6 Apr. 2021 Owners with 30 or more units were least likely to expect financial distress before three months, but the percentage was still 20.3%. Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times, "Landlords are waiting for rent payments — and some can’t hold on much longer," 5 Apr. 2021 Asian Americans are also among the least likely to receive support for a mental health crisis. Israa Nasir, SELF, "8 Tips for Talking About Mental Health With Your Asian Family," 2 Apr. 2021 Hung emphasized that the team agreed that a lab leak was the least likely path of the virus and therefore put their time and energy into exploring other hypotheses. BostonGlobe.com, "WHO report leaves unsettled ‘lab-leak’ theory on origins of covid pandemic," 31 Mar. 2021 And a World Health Organization report released Tuesday says the lab leak theory is the least likely of four scenarios its investigators considered. Maggie Fox, CNN, "Lab leak Covid-19 theory is like something out of a comic book, virologist says," 31 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for least

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for least

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Least.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/least. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for least

Nglish: Translation of least for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of least for Arabic Speakers

Comments on least

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