worst

1 of 4

adjective

superlative of bad

or of ill

1
: most corrupt, bad, evil, or ill
his worst fault
2
a
: most unfavorable, difficult, unpleasant, or painful
the worst news
your worst enemy
b
: most unsuitable, faulty, unattractive, or ill-conceived
has the worst table manners
c
: least skillful or efficient
the worst person for the job
3
: most wanting in quality, value, or condition
the worst results

worst

2 of 4

adverb

superlative of ill

or illy

or of bad

or badly

1
: to the extreme degree of badness or inferiority
the worst dressed person
2
: to the greatest or highest degree
groups who need the subsidies worst lose out T. W. Arnold

worst

3 of 4

noun

plural worst
: one that is worst

worst

4 of 4

verb

worsted; worsting; worsts

transitive verb

: to get the better of : defeat
Phrases
the worst way
: very much
such men … need indoctrination the worst way J. G. Cozzens
often used with in
wanted a new bicycle in the worst way
at worst
: under the worst circumstances

Example Sentences

Adjective This is the worst car I've ever bought. In my opinion, it's her worst book. It was the worst movie I've ever seen. His worst quality is his impatience. This has got to be the worst day of my life. The worst part of working there is the long commute. My worst fears came true. He lives in the worst area of the city. He is the worst singer I've ever heard. They're the worst team ever. Adverb My sister was hurt worst. the areas worst hit by the drought She was voted the worst-dressed celebrity of 2005. Noun What's the worst that can happen? When it comes to dancing, he is the worst. That movie was the worst! He is the worst of the bunch. He is one of the worst in the class. Even in the worst of times, she was hopeful. It's still raining, but the worst of the storm is over now. The worst of it is, I don't even know how to contact her. The company was operating on high costs and low prices—the worst of both worlds. Verb how humiliating for a tennis champ to be worsted by a player no one had ever heard of See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
As a result, economists at Barclays expect their worst-case scenario of a 5% decline in gross domestic product to be avoided, but continue to see a 1.3% drop as likely. Paul Hannon, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2022 Countries have made remarkable progress averting worst-case climate scenarios since then: Canada taxes carbon pollution, Europe has its Green Deal, and the United States somehow passed the Inflation Reduction Act. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2022 Thwaites is often known as the Doomsday Glacier, because, in this worst-case scenario, sea levels could rise by several feet or more, inundating many of the world’s low-lying coastlines. David W. Brown, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2022 But last year’s deluges were the worst ever recorded – 54 people died and tens of thousands were displaced. Heather Chen, CNN, 18 Nov. 2022 The Wolfpack’s loss to Boston College was arguably the worst in the Dave Doeren era. Alexis Cubit, The Courier-Journal, 17 Nov. 2022 On the downside, the Wild were the worst, trailing opponents by a 5:1 margin at the Xcel Energy Center, followed by Columbus (3:1) and Buffalo (3:1). Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Nov. 2022 In Pittsburgh’s first season since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, the Steelers have scored the fewest points in the NFL, their touchdown/interception ratio of 6/10 is the worst in the league and only three teams have fewer yards. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 9 Nov. 2022 Their penalty kill is the sixth-worst in the league. Mike Brehm, USA TODAY, 8 Nov. 2022
Adverb
Alabama’s cervical cancer incidence rate – or the number of new cancers of a specific type – ranked fifth worst in the country according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sarah Swetlik | Sswetlik@al.com, al, 22 Nov. 2022 The storm mostly spared Southwest Florida, the area worst hit by Hurricane Ian, which slammed into the state as a Category 4 storm in September. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2022 The storm mostly spared southwest Florida, the area worst hit by Hurricane Ian, which slammed into the state as a Category 4 storm in September. Eric Adelson, BostonGlobe.com, 10 Nov. 2022 Oregon’s fourth- and eighth-grade math performance ranked sixth worst in the country, the 2022 results indicate. Betsy Hammond, oregonlive, 24 Oct. 2022 The offensive line ranked worst in ESPN’s pass-block win rate. Dave Hyde, Sun Sentinel, 10 Sep. 2022 The minor league system is ranked worst by MLB Pipeline. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2022 Auburn’s average turnover margin of minus-2.67 per game is also the second-worst nationally, ahead of only Stanford (minus-3.5 in two games). Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 19 Sep. 2022 The Rams' 21-point loss was the second-worst suffered by a defending Super Bowl champion in the first game of the subsequent season. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2022
Noun
If this is Warhol at his provocative worst, at least the exhibition for the most part reveals Warhol at his colorful and kitschy best. John J. Miller, National Review, 19 Dec. 2019 Shortly after taking office in July, Mr Johnson confirmed his critics’ worst fears by suspending Parliament in order to try to stop it from legislating against no-deal. The Economist, 21 Dec. 2019 But here’s my follow-up question that shows how conflicted this season really is: Does the front office want the Dolphins to win these next three games against the bad Jets, awful Giants and worst-in-the-world Bengals? Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, 3 Dec. 2019 The offense managed to score only 22 total points against the Hilltoppers, Volunteers and Golden Eagles, and was held to less than 300 yards each time out and three of its four worst rushing performances of the season. Evan Dudley, al, 12 Nov. 2019 The effect was most clearly seen around the three-year Red Sox whiplash era of worst-to-first-to-worst again from 2012-14. BostonGlobe.com, 30 Sep. 2019 Before departing, get a copy of everyone’s travel information in case of worst-scenario situations. Dan Q. Dao, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Sep. 2019 The team’s hope was to create more takeaways after finishing with NFL worsts of two interceptions and seven forced turnovers in 2018. Si Wire, SI.com, 15 Sep. 2019 Another strange, strange window, and perhaps my choices for best and worst might be controversial. SI.com, 10 Aug. 2019
Verb
As with most rating systems, the Medicare star rating helps rank plans from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). The Oregonian/oregonlive And Nerdwallet, oregonlive, 10 Oct. 2021 Turkey’s disinflationary momentum is staying intact even after the lira suffered the emerging world’s worst depreciation last month against the dollar. Taylan Bilgic, Bloomberg.com, 5 May 2020 OUTLOOK Chicago allowed a whopping 291 goals last season, second worst in the league behind Ottawa, and finished with the NHL’s worst penalty kill at 72.7%. San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Sep. 2019 Europe’s worst hit countries - Italy, Spain, and France - saw coronavirus death tolls declining this weekend as weeks of lockdowns prove effective. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Apr. 2020 Maryland officials late Saturday reported the deaths of three additional residents at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Carroll County, bringing the death toll at the site of the state’s worst outbreak to nine. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2020 As the country battles Europe’s worst outbreak after Italy, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced plans for even tighter restrictions on public life, ordering those who work in nonessential services to stay home during the Easter period. Boris Groendahl, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Mar. 2020 The fact that Richards is 75.4% from the free throw line makes him a more viable option than most big men in that scenario when the opponent is looking to send the team’s worst free throw shooter to the line. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 24 Feb. 2020 Here are three takeaways from the Aggies’ loss to the Gamecocks: Gamecocks roll over the Aggies Saturday was one of A&M’s worst games this season with the Aggies suffering their third-most lopsided loss of the year. Alex Miller, Dallas News, 8 Feb. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'worst.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English werste, worste, from Old English wierresta, wyrsta, superlative of the root of Old English wiersa worse

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1636, in the meaning defined above

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

Cite this Entry

“Worst.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worst. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

worst 1 of 4

adjective

superlative of bad

or of ill

1
: most bad, evil, or ill
his worst habit
2
a
: most unfavorable, unpleasant, or painful
the worst problem imaginable
b
: most unsuitable, faulty, unattractive, or ill-conceived
has the worst manners
c
: least skillful or efficient
the worst plumber you can hire
3
: most wanting in quality, value, or condition
farmed the worst land
the worst way
: very much
wanted a new bicycle in the worst way

worst

2 of 4

adverb

superlative of bad

or badly

or of ill

1
: to the greatest degree of badness
sings worst
2
: to the greatest degree
needed help worst

worst

3 of 4

noun

1
: one that is worst
always chooses the worst
2
: the greatest degree of ill or badness
if worse comes to worst

worst

4 of 4

verb

: to get the better of : defeat
worsted his opponents

Medical Definition

worst

superlative of ill

More from Merriam-Webster on worst

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