adjective, a superl. of little with less or lesser as compar.
adverb superl. of little with less as compar.
- 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.
Origin of least
adjective, lit·tler or less or less·er, lit·tlest or least.
adverb, less, least.
- belittle: to make little of one's troubles.
- to understand or interpret only slightly: Scholars made little of the newly discovered text.
Origin of little
Synonyms for little
Related Words for leastgutter, last, nadir, bottom, infinitesimal, second, minimum, minute, first, third, atomic, lowest, microscopic, minimal, molecular, niggling, piddling, trivial, unimportant, finical
- 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
Word Origin for least
- a small quantity, extent, or duration ofthe little hope there is left; very little milk
- (as pronoun)save a little for me
- a lot
Word Origin for little
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.
Old English lytel "not large, not much; short in distance or time; unimportant," also used in late Old English as a noun, "small piece; a short time," from West Germanic *lutilla- (cf. Old Saxon luttil, Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, German lützel, Gothic leitils "little"), perhaps originally a diminutive of the root of Old English lyt "little, few," from PIE *leud- "small." "Often synonymous with small, but capable of emotional implications which small is not" [OED].
Phrase the little woman "wife" attested from 1795. Little people "the faeries" is from 1726; as "children," it is attested from 1752; as "ordinary people" (opposed to the great), it is attested from 1827. Little Neck clams (1884) are so called for Little Neck, Long Island, a "neck" of land on the island's North Shore. Little by little is from late 15c. (litylle be litille). Little green men "space aliens" is from 1950. Little black dress is from 1939.
At the beginning of summer, smart women who stay in town like to wear sheer "little black dresses." Because most "little black dresses" look alike, retailers struggle each year to find something which will make them seem new. ["Life," June 13, 1939]
Little Orphan Annie originally was (as Little Orphant Annie) the character in James Whitcomb Riley's 1885 poem, originally titled "Elf Child." The U.S. newspaper comic strip created by Harold Gray (1894-1968) debuted in 1924 in the New York "Daily News."
LITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
[Riley, "Elf Child"]
OE lytlian, from root of little (adj.).
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
In addition to the idioms beginning with little
- little bird told one, a
- little by little
- little frog in a big pond
- little knowledge is a dangerous thing, a
- little pitchers have big ears
- a little
- every little bit helps
- in one's own (little) world
- make little of
- precious few (little)
- think little of
- to little purpose
- too little, too late