[ bet-er ]
/ ˈbɛt ər /
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.
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- in better circumstances.
- more fortunate; happier: Because of his asthma, he would be better off in a different climate.
better oneself, to improve one's social standing, financial position, or education: He is going to night school because he wants to better himself.
- to get an advantage over.
- to prevail against.
- to reconsider and decide more favorably or wisely regarding: I was tempted to make a sarcastic retort, but thought better of it.
- to form a higher opinion of: I think better of him now that he's gone back to college.
for the better, in a way that is an improvement: His health changed for the better.
get/have the better of,
go (someone) one better, to exceed the effort of; be superior to: The neighbors went us one better by buying two new cars.
had better, would be wiser or more well-advised to; ought to: We had better stay indoors today.
no better than one should be, morally inferior; immoral or amoral: Don't speak to him; he's no better than he should be!
think better of,
Origin of better1
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for have the better of (1 of 2)
/ (ˈbɛtə) /
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
- to change one's course of action after reconsideration
- 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
British Dictionary definitions for have the better of (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
Idioms and Phrases with have the better of (1 of 2)
have the better of
see get the better of.
Idioms and Phrases with have the better of (2 of 2)
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
- 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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.