adjective, superl. of good with better as compar.
adverb, superl. of well with better as compar.
verb (used with object)
- to gain the advantage over.
- to defeat; subdue: His arthritis gets the best of him from time to time.
Origin of best
- to do one's utmost to make progress
- to hurry
- in the most favourable interpretation
- under the most favourable conditions
- for an ultimately good outcome
- with good intentionshe meant it for the best
Word Origin for best
Old English beste, reduced by assimilation of -t- from earlier Old English betst "best, first, in the best manner," originally superlative of bot "remedy, reparation," the root word now only surviving in to boot (see boot (n.2)), though its comparative, better, and superlative, best, have been transferred to good (and in some cases well). From Proto-Germanic root *bat-, with comparative *batizon and superlative *batistaz (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Middle Dutch best, Old High German bezzist, German best, Old Norse beztr, Gothic batists).
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Best-seller as short for "best-selling book" is from 1902, apparently originally in the publishing trade; best friend was in Chaucer (late 14c.). Best girl is first attested 1881, American English; best man is 1814, originally Scottish, replacing groomsman. To be able to do something with the best of them is recorded by 1748.
"to get the better of," 1863, from best (adj.). Related: Bested; besting.
c.1200, from best (adj.).
all for the best
Also, for the best. Best in the long run, despite appearances to the contrary. It is often a response to an unhappy outcome, as in They had to sell their business, but since they weren't making money it's probably for the best, or The dress had been sold when she went back, but since it was a little too tight it's all for the best. [Late 1300s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with best
- best bib and tucker
- best of both worlds, the
- best part of something
- best shot
- all for the best
- all the best
- as best one can
- at best
- at one's best
- come off (second-best)
- do one's best
- get the better (best) of
- give it one's best shot
- had better (best)
- make the best of it
- on one's best behavior
- put one's best foot forward
- second best
- Sunday best
- in one's (best) interest
- to the best of one's ability
- with the best of them
- with the best will in the world
Also see underbetter.