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Idioms about better

Origin of better

First recorded before 900; Middle English bettre, Old English bet(te)ra; cognate with Old High German bezziro (German besser ), Dutch beter, Old Norse betr, Gothic batiza, equivalent to bat- (cognate with Old High German baz (adverb) “better”; akin to boot2) + -iza comparative suffix; see best


un·bet·tered, adjective


better , bettor

Other definitions for better (2 of 2)

[ bet-er ]
/ ˈbɛt ər /

a variant of bettor.

Origin of better

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of better?

Better is an adjective that describes something as being superior or is an adverb that means something is done to a higher degree or more completely. As a verb, better means to improve. The word better has more specific senses as an adjective, adverb, and a verb.

As an adjective, the word better is a comparative of the word good, with the superlative being best. This means that if something is better, it is “more good” than something else but might be “less good” than something that is best. For example, in the Olympic Games a bronze medal is good, a silver medal is better, and a gold medal is the best you can get. Because better is a comparative, you must be comparing two things or conditions when using it.

  • Real-life examples: An A is a better grade than a B on a test. Most people would agree that a spoonful of cinnamon has a better taste than a spoonful of cough medicine. A racer who finishes first is a better driver than all of the other racers.
  • Used in a sentence: I think a puppy is a better pet for a kid than a snake. 

Sometimes, only one of the things being compared is mentioned, while the other is implied. This is most commonly done when the word better is used to mean improved health.

  • Used in a sentence: I was throwing up all morning, but I am better now.

Better is also used as an adverb as a comparative of the word well, with best as the superlative. It often describes how something is done. For example, I can play soccer well, a college soccer player plays better, and an Olympic soccer player plays best out of the three of us.

  • Real-life examples: A chess master will play chess better than someone who has never played at all. Some students learn better than others. You read articles like this one to learn how to use words better.
  • Used in a sentence: He can draw well, but I know that I can draw better (than he can). 

As a verb, better means to improve something.

  • Used in a sentence: Laurel took the time to better herself as a business owner.

Where does better come from?

The first records of better come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English betera and is related to similar words from other languages, such as the Old Norse betr, the Gothic batiza, and the Old High German bezziro.

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What are some other forms related to better?

  • unbettered (adjective)

What are some synonyms for better?

What are some words that share a root or word element with better?

What are some words that often get used in discussing better?

What are some words better may be commonly confused with?

How is better used in real life?

Better is a very common word that means something is superior or something is done in a superior way.


Try using better!

Is better used correctly in the following sentence? 

I played well and scored 17 points, but she played better and scored 20 points to beat me.


What are other ways to say better?

To better something is to increase its good qualities. When should you use this verb over improve or ameliorate? Find out on Thesaurus.com.

How to use better in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for better (1 of 2)

Word Origin for better

Old English betera; related to Old Norse betri, Gothic batiza, Old High German beziro

British Dictionary definitions for better (2 of 2)


esp US bettor

/ (ˈbɛtə) /

a person who bets
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with better


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.