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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For the sake of the planet, many hope that at least some of them do. Shweta Narayan, Smithsonian, "How Engineers of New Energy Technology Are Taking Cues From Nature," 31 Aug. 2019 At least some of those customers are hoping to make a quick buck themselves. Lauren Zumbach, chicagotribune.com, "Secondhand shopping, once stigmatized, is going mainstream. ‘It’s better for the environment, my wallet and morals.’," 29 Aug. 2019 Oppositional politics keeps it together, at least some of the time, as has also been true for the GOP for much of its history. John Hood, National Review, "New Nationalists Make Three Big Bets," 28 Aug. 2019 Siegel noted that in at least some of the cases, the use of a THC oil, such as butane hash oil, was blamed. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, "Critics: CDC silent on vaping THC as injuries mount," 28 Aug. 2019 So, the hope is that at least some of them would be able to overcome this implicit bias. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Scientists avoid gender bias when they know they’re being tested for bias," 27 Aug. 2019 But not to fear: Turner and Jonas were spotted leaving their hotel in New York with Joe and Kevin Jonas, all dressed up for the event (or at least some of the parties). Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The J Sisters Skipped the Red Carpet at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards—But They Still Dressed Up," 27 Aug. 2019 But as evidenced by how Australia battled the U.S. twice in a pair of exhibitions in Melbourne, and beat the Americans there on Saturday, at least some of the world's best teams aren't exactly fearful of the two-time defending World Cup champions. Tim Reynolds, courant.com, "Basketball’s World Cup will have star power, in an international sense," 25 Aug. 2019 Aubin said Little's confessions have given closure to at least some victims' families. Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati.com, "Serial killer pleads guilty to strangling 2 women in Cincinnati decades ago," 23 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

However, that may be too many points: The Redskins (+5.5, -106) proved to be at least competent last week against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Marcus Mosher, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins odds, picks and best bets [UPDATED]," 15 Sep. 2019 Set aside 30 minutes every Sunday to open your work at home and at least look at it. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Procrastinator will definitely get to it later," 13 Sep. 2019 Set aside 30 minutes every Sunday to open your work at home and at least look at it. Ask Amy, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Why do I lack motivation to do things I love to do?," 13 Sep. 2019 At least 14 states are expected to vote on next year’s Super Tuesday, which will be held on March 3. Fox News, "O’Rourke polling in third place in native Texas on eve of Houston debate," 11 Sep. 2019 In the cell cultures at least, the rock/paper/scissors design held Darwin at bay, Hasty said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From rock/paper/scissors to new cancer-fighting concept from UCSD scientists," 6 Sep. 2019 Yet the numerous accusations of Ecarma’s abusive and discriminatory language are problematic, and allegations of his bullying of injured players at least equally troubling. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville pays ex-men's tennis coach rather than follow its Pitino playbook," 19 Aug. 2019 That was the case, at least, at Øya in Oslo last week, where filming seemed almost non-existent, despite a number of big performances like The Cure, Sigrid, Robyn and Tame Impala. Heidi Taksdal Skjeseth, Billboard, "At Norway's Oya Festival, a Sea of Hands but Few People Filming With Cell Phones," 12 Aug. 2019 But multiple studies have recently suggested that the amount of land, water and other resources required to maintain these plantations—at least, at a scale that would make a substantial difference to the global climate—would likely be unsustainable. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "To Halt Warming and Ensure Food Supplies, Land-Use Practices Must Change," 8 Aug. 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.

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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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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

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

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