[woo s-tid, wur-stid]


firmly twisted yarn or thread spun from combed, stapled wool fibers of the same length, for weaving, knitting, etc.Compare woolen.
wool cloth woven from such yarns, having a hard, smooth surface and no nap.


consisting or made of worsted.

Origin of worsted

1250–1300; Middle English worsted(e), special use of Worstede Worstead (Old English Wurthestede), name of parish in Norfolk, England, where the cloth was made
Related formshalf-worst·ed, adjective



adjective, superl. of bad and ill.

bad or ill in the highest, greatest, or most extreme degree: the worst person.
most faulty, unsatisfactory, or objectionable: the worst paper submitted.
most unfavorable or injurious.
in the poorest condition: the worst house on the block.
most unpleasant, unattractive, or disagreeable: the worst personality I've ever known.
most lacking in skill; least skilled: the worst typist in the group.


that which is worst.


in the most evil, wicked, severe, or disadvantageous manner.
with the most severity, intensity, etc.; in the greatest degree.

verb (used with object)

to defeat; beat: He worsted him easily.


    at worst, if the worst happens; under the worst conditions: He will be expelled from school, at worst.Also at the worst.
    get the worst of something, to be defeated by; lose: to get the worst of a fight.
    if worst comes to worst, if the very worst happens: If worst comes to worst, we still have some money in reserve.
    in the worst way, Informal. in an extreme degree; very much: She wanted a new robe for Christmas in the worst way.Also the worst way.

Origin of worst

before 900; Middle English worste (adj., adv., and noun), Old English wur(re)sta, wyr(re)st, wer(re)sta (adj. and adv.); cognate with Old Norse verstr; see worse, -est1
Can be confusedworst wurst
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for worsted

Historical Examples of worsted

  • None—wait; there was a rose pricked out in worsted on one corner.

  • But should you deliver battle, you will be worsted—and it will be very ill for you.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

  • And as Cyrus sprang on the horse he saw the Egyptians worsted everywhere.



  • At first our troopers were worsted and driven back a short distance.

  • She had not merely been swayed by the wind that worsted him.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for worsted



a closely twisted yarn or thread made from combed long-staple wool
a fabric made from this, with a hard smooth close-textured surface and no nap
(modifier) made of this yarn or fabrica worsted suit

Word Origin for worsted

C13: named after Worstead, a district in Norfolk



the superlative of bad 1


in the most extreme or bad manner or degree
least well, suitably, or acceptably
(in combination) in or to the smallest degree or extent; leastworst-loved


the worst the least good or most inferior person, thing, or part in a group, narrative, etc
(often preceded by at) the most poor, unpleasant, or unskilled quality or conditiontelevision is at its worst these days
the greatest amount of damage or wickedness of which a person or group is capablethe invaders came and did their worst
the weakest effort or poorest achievement that a person or group is capable of makingthe applicant did his worst at the test because he did not want the job
the worst
  1. in the least favourable interpretation or view
  2. under the least favourable conditions
if the worst comes to the worst if all the more desirable alternatives become impossible or if the worst possible thing happens
come off worst or get the worst of it to enjoy the least benefit from an issue or be defeated in it


(tr) to get the advantage over; defeat or beat

Word Origin for worst

Old English wierrest; related to Old Frisian wersta, Old Saxon, Old High German wirsisto, Old Norse verstr
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 worsted

woolen fabric made from twisted yarn, late 13c., from Worstead (Old English Wurðestede), town in Norfolk where the cloth originally was made.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with worsted


see at worst; get (have) the worst of it; if worst comes to worst; in the worst way. Also see under worse.

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