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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Its resilience rests on consumers, not least in America. The Economist, "Markets are braced for a global downturn," 17 Aug. 2019 Fluke, often the least favorite fish in a sushi combo, was supremely soft in a crudo, and confoundingly luxurious when mixed with tart white strawberries and quinoa. Shauna Lyon, The New Yorker, "At L’Accolade, Artful Appetizers Pose as Drinking Food," 17 Aug. 2019 Good performances and some impressive results, not least a win against Barcelona, will have Blues supporters looking forward to the new season. SI.com, "The Biggest Challenges Facing the Premier League's Newest Managers This Season," 16 Aug. 2019 The tax does not address other causes of greenhouse gases, not the least of which is transportation. Kendra Black, The Denver Post, "Kendra Black: Inexplicable exceptions, a closed door process and no goal — let’s table the Denver “pollution tax”," 16 Aug. 2019 Cut back on the extra stuff While etiquette experts may disagree, the least wasteful way to send out invitations is through an e-vite service. Tanya Edwards, BostonGlobe.com, "Blue, pink — or green? How to throw an eco-friendly baby shower," 15 Aug. 2019 Workers in the service industry are among the least likely to get the benefit. Dylan Mcguinness, ExpressNews.com, "Paid sick leave debate has real-life consequences for San Antonio workers and businesses," 14 Aug. 2019 This idea enables people to rank a slate of candidates from their top choice to their least favorite — rather than selecting just one candidate, as Americans do now. Li Zhou, Vox, "How to close the massive gender gap in Congress," 14 Aug. 2019 Last, but certainly not least, there's the simple fact that neon makeup looks damn good on all skin tones. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Neon Makeup Is the Brightest Beauty Trend of the Summer — Here's How to Wear It," 14 Aug. 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

There are now more than 100 House Democrats openly supporting at least starting the impeachment inquiry process. Jaclyn Gallucci, Fortune, "To Impeach Trump or Not: Where 2020 Democrats Stand," 30 July 2019 The bill would also require a review of national governing bodies at least every four years and require a $20 million a year payment for operating costs to the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Scooby Axson, SI.com, "Senators Introducing Bill To Overhaul U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee," 30 July 2019 Portland Fire & Rescue reminded Portland residents that embers from barbecues or backyard fire pits can spark fires and urged people to keep them at least 15 feet from any structure. oregonlive.com, "Fire destroys homeless camp in SE Portland, spreads to nearby house," 29 July 2019 That tally ranks the former U.S. housing secretary behind at least O’Rourke and Buttigieg, who received $855,000 overall in Texas last quarter. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Are top Democratic presidential hopefuls cannibalizing O’Rourke and Castro’s Texas fundraising?," 26 July 2019 Under the old dispensation, students at least acquired a general sense of the history of their own country. The Economist, "The study of history is in decline in Britain," 18 July 2019 Verne Boerner, chief executive of the Alaska Native Health Board, said the state will lose at least at least $50 million in federal matching funds from the vetoes alone, after the governor cut $50 million from Medicaid services. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "At hearing, Alaskans call for compromise as Legislature remains split over the dividend," 16 July 2019 Following the advent of the American court system and continuing into the 20th century, many jurisdictions needed a way to select candidates for a jury that would at least superficially appear unbiased. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "When 6-Year-Olds Chose Jury Candidates," 11 July 2019 Named as defendants are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state police and six individual troopers, allegedly complicit in a pattern of wrongful stops that has gone on since at least early 2017, after President Donald Trump took office. Jeff Gammage, ProPublica, "ACLU Sues Pennsylvania State Police, Alleging They’ve Overstepped in Acting as Immigration Authorities," 5 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up least? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

not constant or steady

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!