best /bɛst/


I. adjective

1. of the most excellent or desirable type or quality

the best midfielder in the country
how to obtain the best results from your machine
her best black suit.
2. most enjoyable

some of the best times of my life.
3. most appropriate, advantageous, or well advised

do whatever you think best
it’s best if we both go.
II. adverb

1. to the highest degree; most (used with verbs suggesting a desirable action or state or a successful outcome)

they named the pictures they liked best
you knew him best
well-drained soil suits this plant best.
2. to the highest standard

the best-dressed man in Britain
the things we do best.
3. most appropriately or usefully

pruning is best done in spring
jokes are best avoided in essays.
III. noun ( the best)

1. that which is the most excellent, outstanding, or desirable

buy the best you can afford
Sarah always had to be the best at everything
this film represents the best of mainstream popular cinema.
2. the finest aspect of a person or thing

he brought out the best in people.
3. ( one’s best) the highest standard or level that someone or something can reach

this is jazz at its best

try to look your best.
4. ( one’s best) one’s smartest or most formal clothes

she dressed in her best.
5. (in sport) a record performance

a lifetime best of 12.0 seconds.
See also personal best.
6. written at the end of a letter to wish a person well

See you soon, best, Michael.
IV. verb [with obj.]

‹informal› outwit or get the better of (someone)

she refused to allow herself to be bested.
V. phrases

1. all the best
said or written to wish a person well on ending a letter or parting.
2. as best one can (or may)
as effectively as possible under the circumstances

I went about my job as best I could.
3. at best
taking the most optimistic view

what signs there are of recovery are patchy at best.
4. at the best of times
even in the most favourable circumstances

his memory is poor at the best of times.
5. best of breed
a. the animal in a show judged to be the best representative of its breed.
b. any item or product considered to be the best of its kind

their technology is still considered best of breed and demand for their products is still growing.
6. the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley

‹proverb› even the most careful planning doesn’t necessarily ensure success.

in the tradition of all best-laid plans, subsequent events overturned the scheme.
[see gang2.]
7. be the best of friends
be very close friends

she’s really nice and we’re the best of friends.
8. the best of three (or five etc.)
victory achieved by winning the majority of a specified odd number of games.
9. the best part of
most of

the tedious ceremony took the best part of a day.
10. best wishes
an expression of hope for someone’s future happiness or welfare, often written at the end of a letter.

best wishes, Celia.
we sent our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
11. one’s best years
the most vigorous and productive period of one’s life; one’s prime.

my best years are ahead of me.
12. do (or try) one’s best
do all one can

Ruth did her best to reassure her.
13. be for (or all for) the best
be desirable in the end, although not at first seeming so.

what was done was done, and maybe it was for the best.
14. get the best of
overcome (someone)

his drinking got the best of him and he was fired.
15. give someone/thing best

‹dated› admit the superiority of someone or something.

he finally decided to give us best and took himself off.
16. had best do something
find it most sensible or well advised to do the thing mentioned

I’d best be going.
17. make the best of
a. derive what limited advantage one can from (something unsatisfactory)

you’ll just have to make the best of the situation.
b. use (resources) as well as possible

he tried to make the best of his talents.
18. make the best of a bad job

(Brit.) do something as well as one can under difficult circumstances.
19. six of the best

‹chiefly historical›
‹humorous› a caning as a punishment, traditionally with six strokes of the cane.

one prefect would hold you down and the other would give you six of the best.
20. to the best of one’s ability
see ability.
21. to the best of one’s knowledge
see knowledge.
22. with the best of them
as well or as much as anyone

he’ll be out there dancing with the best of them.
– origin Old English betest (adjective), betost, betst (adverb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German best, also to better1.

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