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 Students who aren’t out at home are also the least likely to access virtual mental health services, counselors said. Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times, "A year at home has forced many LGBTQ college students ‘back into the closet’," 24 Mar. 2021 An analysis of survey data found that in 2017 Black households were the least likely of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. to own a vehicle, followed by Native American households. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "The Biggest Barriers to COVID Vaccination for Black and Latinx People," 24 Mar. 2021 Filmed on Willcox’s iPhone in the kitchen of the couple’s home near Birmingham, England, the head-scratching clip launched one of the year’s least likely and most talked-about viral series. David Browne, Rolling Stone, "Robert Fripp and Toyah Willcox on Their Viral Quarantine Videos: ‘We’re in This With You’," 24 Mar. 2021 Nationwide, Black, Latino and American Indian households are the least likely to have a bank account. Dallas News, "New Chase ‘community center’ in Oak Cliff targets underserved Black, Latino communities," 24 Mar. 2021 White evangelical Protestants, the group least likely to favor nondiscrimination laws, endorsed them by nearly 2 to 1 (62 percent to 32 percent). NBC News, "Three-quarters of Americans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws," 23 Mar. 2021 High school students are the least likely to be in the classroom right now, with 23.2% of older students learning solely virtually, according to the data. Bo Erickson, CBS News, "Teachers union "not convinced" social distancing can safely be cut to 3 feet," 23 Mar. 2021 There can be no doubt about the racial element of this assault, but the perpetrators belonged to one of the demographic groups in America least likely to be influenced by Trump or to favor white nationalism. Rich Lowry, National Review, "In the Atlanta Shooting, the Narrative Trumps Facts," 23 Mar. 2021 Republicans and supporters of the former president are the least likely to seek a vaccine for the coronavirus, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey found last week. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage COVID-19 numbers are down. Now it’s neighboring Mat-Su that has officials worried.," 18 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 11 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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