adjective, superl. of bad and ill.
verb (used with object)
Origin of worst
- in the least favourable interpretation or view
- under the least favourable conditions
Word Origin for worst
Old English wyrresta, from Proto-Germanic *wers-ista- (cf. Old Saxon wirsista, Old Norse verstr, Old Frisian wersta, Old High German wirsisto), superlative of PIE *wers- "to confuse, mix up" (see worse). Phrase in the worst way (1839) is from American English sense of "most severely."
"damage, inflict loss upon," c.1600, from worst (adj.). Related: Worsted; worsting.
if worst comes to worst
Also, if worse comes to worst. In the least favorable situation, if the worst possible outcome occurs. For example, If worst comes to worst and the budget is not approved, the government will shut down, or Go ahead and go to school with a cold; if worse comes to worst the teacher will send you home. This expression is nearly always followed by a solution. [Late 1500s]
see at worst; get (have) the worst of it; if worst comes to worst; in the worst way. Also see under worse.