Share this entry

Share this page

best

Line breaks: best
Pronunciation: /bɛst
 
/

Definition of best in English:

adjective

1Of 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
More example sentences
  • Only a few of the very best pedigree pigs can be kept for breeding.
  • In fact her son Lindsay was Rebecca's very best friend when they were small children.
  • We need to know our children are receiving the very best care from professional educationalists.
Synonyms
finest, greatest, top, foremost, leading, pre-eminent, premier, prime, first, chief, principal, supreme, of the highest quality, superlative, unrivalled, second to none, without equal, nonpareil, unsurpassed, unsurpassable, peerless, matchless, unparalleled, unbeaten, unbeatable, unexcelled, optimum, optimal, ultimate, surpassing, incomparable, ideal, perfect;
chiefly US top of the line;
informal star, number-one, one-in-a-million, a cut above the rest, top-drawer
1.1Most enjoyable: some of the best times of my life
More example sentences
  • Twenty nine cars participated in what was regarded as the best and most enjoyable hunt ever.
  • He has devoted the best years of his life to preparing impromptu speeches.
  • Sometimes it's best to sit close to the fire, looking into the coals, and beyond them.
1.2Most appropriate, advantageous, or well advised: do whatever you think best it’s best if we both go
More example sentences
  • In the ancient world, gold was preferred as the best metal for making jewellery.
  • Can you recommend the best website to create albums for others to view?
  • Again, your local garden centre will be able to recommend the best brands for your needs.
Synonyms
most advantageous, most suitable, most fitting, most appropriate, most apt;
most prudent, most sensible, most advisable, most desirable
[superlative of good]

adverb

Back to top  
1To 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
More example sentences
  • Partial or dappled shade and soil enriched with plenty of leaf mould suits them best.
  • What do you like best about your course?
  • Every woman should wear what she feels suits her best.
Synonyms
most, to the highest/greatest degree
1.1To the highest standard: the best-dressed man in Britain the things we do best
More example sentences
  • Standard pub food is what it does best: Sunday roasts, chips, steak, sausages and mash.
  • The new van has one of the best designed cabs, with a good level of standard equipment.
  • The idea that they were always the best behaved in the world is almost a joke.
Synonyms
to the highest standard, in the best way
1.2Most appropriately or usefully: pruning is best done in spring jokes are best avoided in essays
More example sentences
  • Religion and politics are apparently the two topics best avoided when engaging in polite conversation.
  • Those who have lived through the crisis are perhaps the best equipped to avoid a repeat of it.
  • Sundays, when even the swings in the children's playgrounds are padlocked, are best avoided.
Synonyms
most sensibly, most prudently, most wisely, most suitably, most fittingly, most advantageously, most usefully;
better
[superlative of well1]

noun

(the best) Back to top  
1That 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
More example sentences
  • Why don't we just grow up and admit that England cannot always be the best at everything.
  • He wants to be the best at everything he does, whether it be football or pool or golf.
  • They may or may not be the best at any given moment, but no team handles the ball better.
Synonyms
finest, top, cream, choice, choicest, prime, elite, crème de la crème, flower, jewel in the crown, nonpareil
informal the tops, the pick of the bunch
1.1The finest aspect of a person or thing: he brought out the best in people
More example sentences
  • They were fond of each other, and observers of his early work often say that she brought out the best in him.
  • They also brought out the best in communities who battled past the point of exhaustion against the rising waters.
  • He now enjoyed a sustained spell of supremacy which brought out the best in a determined York defence.
Synonyms
most favourable/pleasant aspect, best point;
advantage, asset, virtue, good point
1.2 (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
More example sentences
  • You are expected to look your best at every moment, before, during and after the wedding.
  • You have to look your best on these occasions.
  • It's party time coming up so this is the ideal opportunity to learn how to look your best.
1.3 (one's best) One’s smartest or most formal clothes: she dressed in her best
More example sentences
  • Soon Elizabeth was dressed in her best.
  • Mum was coming and she was all dressed up in her best.
  • Sonia watched in amusement as he dressed in his best, getting ready for town.
Synonyms
best clothes, finery, Sunday best
informal best bib and tucker, glad rags
1.4(In sport) a record performance: a lifetime best of 12.0 seconds See also personal best.
More example sentences
  • All-in-all there were 13 championship bests at Seville in 1999.
  • Burnside retained the title, clocking a time of 7.50s with Dudgeon two metres down in 2nd place in 7.63s - bettering her own six-year-old best.
  • In the under - 17 race, Lauren Blackie showed remarkable consistency to time 8.17 sec twice, a new best.
1.5Written at the end of a letter to wish a person well: See you soon, best, Michael
More example sentences
  • My gut reaction was to write Sincerely, but then I re-read an email that was sent from the recruiter to me and she signed it Best.
  • If he signed it "Best, LRH" then that meant he wasn't pleased with you and you were in trouble.
  • I hope you are back from the hospital and doing okay. Best, Andrea.

verb

[with object] informal Back to top  
Outwit or get the better of (someone): she refused to allow herself to be bested
More example sentences
  • But she can only give herself to a man who bests her in hand-to-hand combat.
  • He takes understandable pleasure in besting his brother on the polo field and on the ski slopes.
  • She met their world on its own terms, often besting the boys at their games and always laughing when she landed on her butt.
Synonyms
defeat, beat, get the better of, gain the advantage over, get the upper hand over, outdo, outwit, outsmart, worst, be more than a match for, prevail over, conquer, vanquish, trounce, triumph over;
surpass, outclass, outshine, put someone in the shade, overshadow, eclipse
informal lick, get one over on
US informal own

Origin

Old English betest (adjective), betost, betst (adverb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German best, also to better1.

Phrases

all the best

1
Said or written to wish a person well on ending a letter or parting.
Example sentences
  • Well done to both players on a great achievement and we wish them all the best in the All Ireland final.
  • Vince has a lot to offer, and I wish him all the best as he makes his mark on the national sporting scene.
  • We also wish them all the best while away and hope that they return back home safe and sound again in autumn.

as best one can (or may)

2
As effectively as possible under the circumstances: I went about my job as best I could
More example sentences
  • Also, you just want to do the job as best you can, and if you think you're doing the job well, that gives you satisfaction.
  • I guess you just each day get up and do what has to be done, and whatever the circumstances are, as things change you just cope as best you can.
  • ‘You live with it as best you can,’ he said.

at best

3
Taking the most optimistic view: what signs there are of recovery are patchy at best
More example sentences
  • The first views her at best as a mad, talentless manipulator and at worst as a murderer.
  • If you're a journalist for any period of time you get used to them and find them at best tedious and at worst laughable.
  • So far those attempts have been at worst disastrous and at best meaningless.

at the best of times

4
Even in the most favourable circumstances: his memory is poor at the best of times
More example sentences
  • His job - not easy at the best of times - is to try to persuade the member states to act together, wisely and well.
  • But get onto the lesser ring roads and the traffic movement is atrocious at the best of times.
  • It is famously difficult to get into Crannog at the best of times.

best of breed

5
The animal in a show judged to be the best representative of its breed.
Example sentences
  • Tender loving care has saved the show career of Luna who won ' best of breed ' for the third year running at Crufts.
  • Dog breeders Gary and Gill Gray were celebrating after their German Shepherd Lottie won best of breed.
  • He is hotly tipped to be named as best in breed in the north of England by the end of the summer season next month.
5.1Any 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
More example sentences
  • He is untouchable, Scotland's supreme champion, best of breed.
  • It will also have to persuade firms of the merits of best of breed rather than all-in-one solutions.
  • It's third-quarter 5.89 % total return also ranks it among the best of breed.

the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley

6
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]
More example sentences
  • There are philosophies and religions that deny that, but it seems to me that it is clear that the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, and not just because you slipped up in your litany of positive thoughts.

be the best of friends

7
Be very close friends: she’s really nice and we’re the best of friends
More example sentences
  • We are now the best of friends - because friends can do anything together!
  • Last week we had been friends, not the best of friends, but friends nonetheless.
  • The three of us had become very close to each other and became the best of friends.

the best of three (or five etc.)

8
Victory achieved by winning the majority of a specified odd number of games.
Example sentences
  • Games can end in a draw when both reach the same point total, and usually Briscola is played to the best of three or five games.
  • League games will continue to be played up to 21 points over the best of three games for this season, it was decided at York and District Table Tennis Association's annual meeting.
  • The Clan lost the opening game of the best of three set 70-58.

the best part of

9
Most of: the tedious ceremony took the best part of a day
More example sentences
  • Total mileage, probably the best part of 1000 miles plus all the interim travelling.
  • With the first of them opening in early January, they will have been flowering for the best part of two months.
  • At one end of this area, a massive building project has been underway for the best part of 20 years.

best wishes

10
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
More example sentences
  • Congratulations and best wishes for future happiness to all concerned.
  • But leaving aside esoteric question of etiquette all best wishes for future happiness!
  • The entire FAS team and the community send her best wishes for her future happiness.
Synonyms

one's best years

11
The most vigorous and productive period of one’s life; one’s prime: my best years are ahead of me
More example sentences
  • The children lost their best years for obtaining a good education and for developing other skills and also had a difficult time when, eventually, they had to retire from their sport.
  • They work their best years with fierce determination - professional, savvy and keeping their beautifully made-up eyes on the bottom line and the final exit.
  • Progress would dry up as creative minds wasted their best years in uncreative apprenticeships, under the sour scrutiny of their elders.

do (or try) one's best

12
Do all one can: Ruth did her best to reassure her
More example sentences
  • I have always been a great believer in trying your best to get into good positions in sport.
  • You're trying your best to create, in front of the camera, some approximation of the real world.
  • You also drive under pressure all day trying your best to keep your bus on time.
Synonyms
do one's utmost, try one's hardest, try as hard as one can, make every effort, spare no effort, do all one can, give one's all, be at pains
North American informal do one's darnedest/durnedest
Australian informal go for the doctor

be for (or all for) the best

13
Be desirable in the end, although not at first seeming so: what was done was done, and maybe it was for the best
More example sentences
  • Though her departure from the estate was a bittersweet one, she knew it was for the best, for although she did not know entirely where she belonged, she knew it wasn't there.
  • Still - reading what I've just written, maybe it was for the best.
  • Uncle Bill put a lot of work into a failed effort, but maybe it was for the best.

get the best of

14
Overcome (someone): his drinking got the best of him and he was fired
More example sentences
  • However, we never really got the best of the old building.
  • However, on the afternoon of their 10th anniversary, curiosity got the best of her and she lifted the lid and peeked inside.
  • I honestly believe that the president got the best of him by simply doing the opposite of whatever he recommended.

give someone/thing best

15
British dated Admit the superiority of someone or something: he finally decided to give us best and took himself off
More example sentences
  • Let's not, then, shrug and give the bombers best.
  • Unsurprisingly, when Taiwan invoked an arbitration clause, the Swiss courts gave them best.
  • But after a time I gave him best (left him) because he used to want to bite my ear too often.

had best do something

16
Find it most sensible or well advised to do the thing mentioned: I’d best be going
More example sentences
  • Anyone who wants to raise this as a problem had best do it behind his back, because if he's around to respond, he will respond brilliantly.
  • My impression is that they realize that there's a crisis here, and they had best do something about it.
  • Having become totally addicted to waterfall hiking we realized we had best do it safely and respectfully.

make the best of

17
Derive what limited advantage one can from (something unsatisfactory): you’ll just have to make the best of the situation
More example sentences
  • He frequently makes the best of limited opportunities, and was again seen to advantage aboard Forest Leader in the moderate Rathkeale Handicap Hurdle.
  • The prevailing ethos on No Disco seemed a bit more thoughtful, a bit more arty, making the best of an obviously limited budget.
  • The complete tour of a Tokyo apartment - compact and bijou, but clean, light and equipped with modern equipment to make the best of the limited space.
17.1Use (resources) as well as possible: he tried to make the best of his talents
More example sentences
  • In addition to using skills such as maths and English, the youngsters would learn how to see opportunities and make the best of their resources.
  • We have to make the best of our maritime resources in all aspects.
  • We have here the where-with-all to make the best of all possible amenities.

make the best of a bad job

18
British Do something as well as one can under difficult circumstances.
Example sentences
  • The truth is that when we turned up at our training camp, and discovered there was no kit, we should have laughed it off, done some PE, shared a pint together and knuckled down to the task of making the best of a bad job.
  • These situations are never good ones to be in, but if we can derive some sort of benefit from it then we can make the best of a bad job.
  • It is recognised that one of the parties in a domestic dispute might want his or her day in court, but this can be expensive and destructive, so if a mediator can reach an agreement it can make the best of a bad job.

six of the best

19
British , chiefly historical or 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
More example sentences
  • I got six of the best with twelve inches of finest wood - Mr George's dreaded ruler across the back of the legs before being torn off a strip about vandalising school property.
  • He had received six of the best for ‘persistently flouting school rules’.
  • Well, I didn't enquire too closely, but as far as I could make out it was literal corporal punishment, doled out for failing to perform one's ‘duties’ - six of the best for not doing the laundry, that sort of thing.

to the best of one's ability

20
see ability.
Example sentences
  • My only advice for my sister was to use her military training to the best of her ability and stay strong.
  • He puts so much into everything he does that those around him are inspired to perform to the best of their ability: there is such a strong desire not to let him down.
  • The following is, to the best of my ability, a recreation of the factual debate between two of the presenters who shall go unnamed.

to the best of one's knowledge

21

with the best of them

22
As well or as much as anyone: he’ll be out there dancing with the best of them
More example sentences
  • The lucky threesome were whisked off to the home of Derby County - Pride Park - where they were wined and dined with the best of them.
  • She knows her French philosophers and can pontificate on Sartrian self-determinism with the best of them.
  • Scotland's new forward coach gets the ball away with the best of them but, when he is unable to do so, seldom fails to protect possession jealously.

Definition of best in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day emulous
Pronunciation: ˈemyələs
adjective
seeking to emulate or imitate someone or something