adjective, a superl. of little with less or lesser as compar.
smallest in size, amount, degree, etc.; slightest: He gave the least amount of money of anyone.
lowest in consideration, position, or importance.
something that is least; the least amount, quantity, degree, etc.
South Midland U.S. the youngest in a family or group.
adverb superl. of little with less as compar.
to the smallest extent, amount, or degree: That's the least important question of all. He talks least.
Also at the least.
- at the lowest estimate or figure: The repairs will cost at least $100.
- at any rate; in any case: You didn't get a good grade, but at least you passed the course.
not in the least, not in the smallest degree; not at all: I am not in the least concerned about the outcome of the World Series.
Origin of least
before 950; Middle English leest(e
), Old English lǣst,
superlative of lǣssa less
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Related Words for at leastslightly
British Dictionary definitions for at least
- the least the superlative of little you have the least talent of anyone
- (as pronoun; functioning as sing)least isn't necessarily worst
- if nothing elseyou should at least try
- at the least
at the least or at least at the minimumat the least you should earn a hundred pounds
in the least (usually used with a negative) in the slightest degree; at allI don't mind in the least
the least superlative of little they travel the least of all
of very little importance or rank
Word Origin for least
Old English lǣst, superlative of lǣssa less
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for at least
Old English læst, earlier læsest "smallest" (superlative of lytel "small"), from Proto-Germanic superlative *laisistaz (see less). Qualifying phrase at least is Middle English æt læstan. As a noun, from early 12c.; as an adverb, c.1200.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with at least
Also, at the least. According to the lowest possible assessment, no less than. For example, At least a dozen more chairs are needed, or The job will take four hours at the least. [c. 1050]
Anyway, anyhow, as in At least you got there on time, or The children enjoyed the dessert at least. [c. 1050] For synonyms, see at any rate; in any case.
In addition to the idioms beginning with least
- least of all
- least resistance, line of
- at least
- in the least
- last but not least
- to say the least
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.