Nearby words

  1. havant,
  2. havant and waterloo,
  3. havarti,
  4. havasupai,
  5. havdalah,
  6. have a ball,
  7. have a big mouth,
  8. have a bone to pick,
  9. have a brush with,
  10. have a case on


Origin of have

before 900; Middle English haven, habben, Old English habban; cognate with German haben, Old Norse hafa, Gothic haban to have; perhaps akin to heave

1. lack.

Can be confusedhalve have

Synonym study

1. Have, hold, occupy, own, possess mean to be, in varying degrees, in possession of something. Have, being the most general word, admits of the widest range of application: to have money, rights, discretion, a disease, a glimpse, an idea; to have a friend's umbrella. To hold is to have in one's grasp or one's control, but not necessarily as one's own: to hold stakes. To occupy is to hold and use, but not necessarily by any right of ownership: to occupy a chair, a house, a position. To own is to have the full rights of property in a thing, which, however, another may be holding or enjoying: to own a house that is rented to tenants. Possess is a more formal equivalent for own and suggests control, and often occupation, of large holdings: to possess vast territories.

Usage note

See of2.



adjective, compar. of good with best as superl.

of superior quality or excellence: a better coat; a better speech.
morally superior; more virtuous: They are no better than thieves.
of superior suitability, advisability, desirability, acceptableness, etc.; preferable: a better time for action.
larger; greater: the better part of a lifetime.
improved in health; healthier than before.
completely recovered in health.

adverb, compar. of well with best as superl.

in a more appropriate or acceptable way or manner: to behave better.
to a greater degree; more completely or thoroughly: He knows the way better than we do. I probably know him better than anyone else.
more: I walked better than a mile to town.

verb (used with object)

to increase the good qualities of; make better; improve: to better one's grades; to better the lot of the suburban commuter.
to improve upon; surpass; exceed: We have bettered last year's production record.
Cards. to raise (a previous bid).


that which has greater excellence or is preferable or wiser: the better of two choices.
Usually betters. those superior to one in wisdom, wealth, etc.

Origin of better

before 900; Middle English bettre, Old English bet(t)(e)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 (adv.) better; akin to boot2) + -iza comparative suffix; suggested relation to Sanskrit bhadrá- “fortunate” is doubtful. See best

Related formsun·bet·tered, adjective

Can be confusedbetter bettor Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for had better




the comparative of good
more excellent than other members of a particular group, category, etc
more suitable, advantageous, attractive, etc
improved in health
fully recovered in health
in more favourable circumstances, esp financially
better off in more favourable circumstances, esp financially
the better part of a large part ofthe better part of a day


the comparative of well 1
in a more excellent manner; more advantageously, attractively, etc
in or to a greater degree or extent; moreshe is better loved than her sister
go one better (Brit intr; US tr) to outdo (a person) or improve upon (someone else's effort)
had better would be wise, sensible, etc toI had better be off
know better than to not to be so stupid as to
think better of
  1. to change one's course of action after reconsideration
  2. to rate (a person) more highly


the better something that is the more excellent, useful, etc, of two such things
(usually plural) a person who is superior, esp in social standing or ability
all the better for improved as a result of
all the better to more suitable to
for better for worse whatever the subsequent events or changes may be
for the better by way of improvementa change for the better
get the better of to defeat, outwit, or surpass
the better of Irish having recovered fromI'm not the better of it yet


to make or become better
(tr) to improve upon; surpass

Word Origin for better

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



esp US bettor


a person who bets


verb has, having or had (mainly tr)

to be in material possession of; ownhe has two cars
to possess as a characteristic quality or attributehe has dark hair
to receive, take, or obtainshe had a present from him; have a look
to hold or entertain in the mindto have an idea
to possess a knowledge or understanding ofI have no German
to experience or undergoto have a shock
to be infected with or suffer fromto have a cold
to gain control of or advantage overyou have me on that point
(usually passive) slang to cheat or outwithe was had by that dishonest salesman
(foll by on) to exhibit (mercy, compassion, etc, towards)have mercy on us, Lord
to engage or take part into have a conversation
to arrange, carry out, or holdto have a party
to cause, compel, or require to (be, do, or be done)have my shoes mended
(takes an infinitive with to) used as an auxiliary to express compulsion or necessityI had to run quickly to escape him
to eat, drink, or partake ofto have a good meal
slang to have sexual intercourse withhe had her on the sofa
(used with a negative) to tolerate or allowI won't have all this noise
to declare, state, or assertrumour has it that they will marry
to put or placeI'll have the sofa in this room
to receive as a guestto have three people to stay
to beget or bear (offspring)she had three children
(takes a past participle) used as an auxiliary to form compound tenses expressing completed actionI have gone; I shall have gone; I would have gone; I had gone
had better or had best ought to: used to express compulsion, obligation, etcyou had better go
had rather or had sooner to consider or find preferable thatI had rather you left at once
have done See done (def. 3)
have had it informal
  1. to be exhausted, defeated, or killed
  2. to have lost one's last chance
  3. to become unfashionable
have it to win a victory
have it away or have it off British slang to have sexual intercourse
have it coming informal to be about to receive or to merit punishment or retribution
have it in for informal to wish or intend harm towards
have it so good to have so many benefits, esp material benefits
have to do with
  1. to have dealings or associate withI have nothing to do with her
  2. to be of relevance tothis has nothing to do with you
I have it informal I know the answer
let someone have it slang to launch or deliver an attack on, esp to discharge a firearm at someone
not having any (foll by of) informal refusing to take part or be involved (in)


(usually plural) a person or group of people in possession of wealth, security, etcthe haves and the have-nots

Word Origin for have

Old English habban; related to Old Norse hafa, Old Saxon hebbian, Old High German habēn, Latin habēre

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 had better
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with had better

had better

Also, had best. Ought to, should. For example, You had better finish this one before starting another, or We had best be going. [Mid-1400s] Also see you'd better believe it.


In addition to the idioms beginning with better

  • better half
  • better late than never
  • better off
  • better part of
  • better safe than sorry
  • better than

also see:

  • against one's better judgment
  • all better
  • all the better
  • discretion is the better part of valor
  • for better or for worse
  • get better
  • get the better (best) of
  • go one better
  • had better (best)
  • know better
  • seen better days
  • so much the better
  • sooner the better
  • take a turn for the better
  • think better of
  • you'd better believe it

Also see underbest.


In addition to the idioms beginning with have, also see entries beginning with get had, and keep

  • have a ball
  • have a big mouth
  • have a bone to pick
  • have a brush with
  • have a case on
  • have a clear conscience
  • have a clue
  • have a crack at
  • have a crush on
  • have a familiar ring
  • have a fit
  • have against
  • have a go at
  • have a good command of
  • have a good day
  • have a good head on one's shoulders
  • have a good mind to
  • have a good thing going
  • have a good time
  • have a grasp of
  • have a hand in
  • have a hard time
  • have a head for
  • have a heart
  • have a hold over
  • have all one's buttons
  • have a lot going for
  • have a lot on one's plate
  • have a mind to
  • have an edge on
  • have a nerve
  • have an eye for
  • have a nice day
  • have another guess coming
  • have an out
  • have a penchant for
  • have a right to
  • have a say in
  • have a screw loose
  • have a shot at
  • have a stake in
  • have at
  • have a thing about
  • have a thing going
  • have a time of it
  • have a way with
  • have a weakness for
  • have a whack at
  • have a word with
  • have a yen for
  • have designs on
  • have dibs on
  • have done
  • have eyes only for
  • have fits
  • have going for one
  • have got to
  • have had enough
  • have had it
  • have in common
  • have in one's hands
  • have it
  • have it both ways
  • have it coming
  • have it in for
  • have it in one
  • have it made
  • have it out
  • have kittens
  • have no business
  • have no heart for
  • have none of
  • have no stomach for
  • have nothing on
  • have nothing to do with
  • have no time for
  • have no truck with
  • have no use for
  • have on
  • have one's ass in a sling
  • have one's cake and eat it, too
  • have one's day
  • have one's druthers
  • have oneself
  • have one's eye on
  • have one's hands full
  • have one's head in the sand
  • have one's head screwed on right
  • have one's heart in it
  • have one's moments
  • have one's own way
  • have one's say
  • have one's way with
  • have one's wits about one
  • have one's work cut out for one
  • have on the ball
  • have out
  • have pity on
  • have pull with
  • have rocks in one's head
  • have someone's ear
  • have someone's hide
  • have someone's number
  • have someone by the balls
  • have something against
  • have something coming
  • have something going
  • have something on
  • have something to show for
  • have the better of
  • have the blues
  • have the courage of one's convictions
  • have the edge on
  • have the feel of
  • have the goods on
  • have the guts
  • have the heart to
  • have the last laugh
  • have the makings of
  • have the say
  • have to
  • have to do with
  • have to show for
  • have two left feet
  • have words with

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