of the highest quality, excellence, or standing:
the best work; the best students.
most advantageous, suitable, or desirable:
the best way.
largest; most:
the best part of a day.
most excellently or suitably; with most advantage or success:
an opera role that best suits her voice.
in or to the highest degree; most fully (usually used in combination):
best-suited; best-known; best-loved.
something or someone that is best:
They always demand and get the best. The best of us can make mistakes.
a person’s finest clothing:
It’s important that you wear your best.
a person’s most agreeable or desirable emotional state (often preceded by at).
a person’s highest degree of competence, inspiration, etc. (often preceded by at).
the highest quality to be found in a given activity or category of things (often preceded by at):
cabinetmaking at its best.
the best effort that a person, group, or thing can make:
Their best fell far short of excellence.
a person’s best wishes or kindest regards:
Please give my best to your father.
to get the better of; defeat; beat:
He easily bested his opponent in hand-to-hand combat. She bested me in the argument.
all for the best, for the good as the final result; to an ultimate advantage:
At the time it was hard to realize how it could be all for the best.
Also, for the best.
as best one can, in the best way possible under the circumstances:
We tried to smooth over the disagreement as best we could.
at best, under the most favorable circumstances:
You may expect to be treated civilly, at best.
get / have the best of,

to gain the advantage over.
to defeat; subdue:
His arthritis gets the best of him from time to time.

had best, would be wisest or most reasonable to; ought to:
You had best phone your mother to tell her where you are going.
make the best of, to cope with in the best way possible:
to make the best of a bad situation.
with the best, on a par with the most capable:
He can play bridge with the best.
Charles Herbert, 1899–1978, Canadian physiologist, born in the U.S.: one of the discoverers of insulin.
morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious:
a good man.
satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree:
a good teacher; good health.
of high quality; excellent.
right; proper; fit:
It is good that you are here. His credentials are good.
a good child.
kind, beneficent, or friendly:
to do a good deed.
honorable or worthy; in good standing:
a good name.
educated and refined:
She has a good background.
financially sound or safe:
His credit is good.
genuine; not counterfeit:
a good quarter.
sound or valid:
good judgment; good reasons.
reliable; dependable; responsible:
good advice.
healthful; beneficial:
Fresh fruit is good for you.
in excellent condition; healthy:
good teeth.
not spoiled or tainted; edible; palatable:
The meat was still good after three months in the freezer.
favorable; propitious:
good news.
cheerful; optimistic; amiable:
in good spirits.
free of distress or pain; comfortable:
to feel good after surgery.
agreeable; pleasant:
Have a good time.
attractive; handsome:
She has a good figure.
(of the complexion) smooth; free from blemish.
close or intimate; warm:
She’s a good friend of mine.
sufficient or ample:
a good supply.
advantageous; satisfactory for the purpose:
a good day for fishing.
competent or skillful; clever:
a good manager; good at arithmetic.
skillfully or expertly done:
a really good job; a good play.
conforming to rules of grammar, usage, etc.; correct:
good English.
socially proper:
good manners.
remaining available to one:
Don’t throw good money after bad.
comparatively new or of relatively fine quality:
Don’t play in the mud in your good clothes.
finest or most dressy:
He wore his good suit to the office today.
a good day’s journey away.
fairly large or great:
a good amount.
free from precipitation or cloudiness:
good weather.
Medicine/Medical. (of a patient’s condition) having stable and normal vital signs, being conscious and comfortable, and having excellent appetite, mobility, etc.
fertile; rich:
good soil.
a good Democrat.
(of a return or service in tennis, squash, handball, etc.) landing within the limits of a court or section of a court.
Horse Racing. (of the surface of a track) drying after a rain so as to be still slightly sticky:
This horse runs best on a good track.
(of meat, especially beef) noting or pertaining to the specific grade below “choice,” containing more lean muscle and less edible fat than “prime” or “choice.”.
favorably regarded (used as an epithet for a ship, town, etc.): the good ship Syrena.
profit or advantage; worth; benefit: What good will that do?
We shall work for the common good.
excellence or merit; kindness:
to do good.
moral righteousness; virtue:
to be a power for good.
(especially in the grading of U.S. beef) an official grade below that of “choice.”.

possessions, especially movable effects or personal property.
articles of trade; wares; merchandise:
canned goods.
Informal. what has been promised or is expected:
to deliver the goods.
Informal. the genuine article.
Informal. evidence of guilt, as stolen articles:
to catch someone with the goods.
cloth or textile material:
top-quality linen goods.
Chiefly British. merchandise sent by land, rather than by water or air.

the good.

the ideal of goodness or morality.
good things or persons collectively.

(used as an expression of approval or satisfaction):
Good! Now we can all go home.
Informal. well1 (defs 1-3, 8): I wish I could cook this good!
Yes, we knew him pretty good.
as good as. as1 (def 20).
come to no good, to end in failure or as a failure:
Her jealous relatives said that she would come to no good.
for good, finally and permanently; forever:
to leave the country for good.
Also, for good and all.
good and, Informal. very; completely; exceedingly:
This soup is good and hot.
good for,

certain to repay (money owed) because of integrity, financial stability, etc.
the equivalent in value of:
Two thousand stamps are good for one coffeepot.
able to survive or continue functioning for (the length of time or the distance indicated):
These tires are good for another 10,000 miles.
valid or in effect for (the length of time indicated):
a license good for one year.
(used as an expression of approval):
Good for you!

good full, Nautical. (of a sail or sails) well filled, especially when sailing close to the wind; clean full; rap full.
make good,

to make recompense for; repay.
to implement an agreement; fulfill.
to be successful.
to substantiate; verify.
to carry out; accomplish; execute:
The convicts made good their getaway.

no good, without value or merit; worthless; contemptible:
The check was no good.
to the good,

generally advantageous:
That’s all to the good, but what do I get out of it?
richer in profit or gain:
When he withdrew from the partnership, he was several thousand dollars to the good.

in a good or satisfactory manner:
Business is going well.
thoroughly, carefully, or soundly:
to shake well before using; listen well.
in a moral or proper manner:
to behave well.
commendably, meritoriously, or excellently:
a difficult task well done.
with propriety, justice, or reason:
I could not well refuse.
adequately or sufficiently:
Think well before you act.
to a considerable extent or degree (often used in combination): a sum well over the amount agreed upon;
a well-developed theme.
with great or intimate knowledge:
to know a person well.
certainly; without doubt:
I anger easily, as you well know.
with good nature; without rancor:
He took the joke well.
in good health; sound in body and mind:
Are you well? He is not a well man.
satisfactory, pleasing, or good:
All is well with us.
proper, fitting, or gratifying:
It is well that you didn’t go.
in a satisfactory position; well-off:
I am very well as I am.
(used to express surprise, reproof, etc.):
Well! There’s no need to shout.
(used to introduce a sentence, resume a conversation, etc.):
Well, who would have thought he could do it?
well-being; good fortune; success:
to wish well to someone.
as well,

in addition; also; too:
She insisted on directing the play and on producing it as well.
The town grew as well because of its location as because of its superb climate.

as well as, as much or as truly as; equally as:
Joan is witty as well as intelligent.
leave well enough alone, avoid changing something that is satisfactory.
a hole drilled or bored into the earth to obtain water, petroleum, natural gas, brine, or sulfur.
a spring or natural source of water.
an apparent reservoir or a source of human feelings, emotions, energy, etc.:
He was a well of gentleness and courtesy.
a container, receptacle, or reservoir for a liquid:
the well of ink in a fountain pen.
any sunken or deep, enclosed space, as a shaft for air or light, stairs, or an elevator, extending vertically through the floors of a building.

a part of a weather deck between two superstructures, extending from one side of a vessel to the other.
a compartment or enclosure around a ship’s pumps to make them easily accessible and protect them from being damaged by the cargo.

a hollow compartment, recessed area, or depression for holding a specific item or items, as fish in the bottom of a boat or the retracted wheels of an airplane in flight.
any shaft dug or bored into the earth, as for storage space or a mine.
to rise, spring, or gush, as water, from the earth or some other source (often followed by up, out, or forth):
Tears welled up in my eyes.
to send welling up or forth:
a fountain welling its pure water.
like, of, resembling, from, or used in connection with a well.
Contemporary Examples

And since we can’t change it, our best hope is to box it in.
There’s Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre Megan McArdle December 16, 2012

That represents the best informed segment of the electorate.
The Republicans Are Now the Stupid Party Jeffrey Hart November 5, 2008

I make peace as best as an infantryman can be expected to do under the circumstances and leave for my favorite bar.
After War: Anger, Panic, and Sometimes Peace Benjamin Tupper June 25, 2013

You know, you set out to do something, and I have achieved what I set out to do to the best of my ability.
‘No Regrets’: Peter Jackson Says Goodbye to Middle-Earth Alex Suskind December 3, 2014

On Tuesday night, the people who know Cianci best decided that they know him a little too well to ask him back to lead their city.
Former Providence Mayor & Ex-Con Buddy Cianci’s Redemption Tour Goes Bust David Freedlander November 3, 2014

Historical Examples

Then take out the best pieces of giblet, trim them neatly, and set them aside.
The Skilful Cook Mary Harrison

But the purest and best matrons of Greece refuse to be my guests.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

“I will do my best, mother dear,” said Elsa, with a quick short sigh.
A Bride of the Plains Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The best of his works is the Olympian Zeus, made at Elis after his exile.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

Anybody can see that we’re playing all round you simply because we’ve got the best team.
Rival Pitchers of Oakdale Morgan Scott

the superlative of good
most excellent of a particular group, category, etc
most suitable, advantageous, desirable, attractive, etc
the best part of, most of: the best part of an hour
put one’s best foot forward

to do one’s utmost to make progress
to hurry

the superlative of well1
in a manner surpassing all others; most excellently, advantageously, attractively, etc
(in combination) in or to the greatest degree or extent; most: the best-loved hero
as best one can, as best one may, as effectively as possible within one’s limitations
had best, would be wise, sensible, etc, to: you had best go now
the best, the most outstanding or excellent person, thing, or group in a category
(often preceded by at) the most excellent, pleasing, or skilled quality or condition: journalism at its best
the most effective effort of which a person or group is capable: even their best was inadequate
a winning majority: the best of three games
Also all the best. best wishes: she sent him her best
a person’s smartest outfit of clothing
at best

in the most favourable interpretation
under the most favourable conditions

for the best

for an ultimately good outcome
with good intentions: he meant it for the best

get the best of, have the best of, to surpass, defeat, or outwit; better
give someone the best, to concede someone’s superiority
make the best of, to cope as well as possible in the unfavourable circumstances of (often in the phrases make the best of a bad job, make the best of it)
(informal) six of the best, six strokes with a cane on the buttocks or hand
(transitive) to gain the advantage over or defeat
Charles Herbert. 1899–1978, Canadian physiologist: associated with Banting and Macleod in their discovery of insulin in 1922
George. 1946–2005, Northern Ireland footballer
adverb better, best
(often used in combination) in a satisfactory manner: the party went very well
(often used in combination) in a good, skilful, or pleasing manner: she plays the violin well
in a correct or careful manner: listen well to my words
in a comfortable or prosperous manner: to live well
(usually used with auxiliaries) suitably; fittingly: you can’t very well say that
intimately: I knew him well
in a kind or favourable manner: she speaks well of you
to a great or considerable extent; fully: to be well informed
by a considerable margin: let me know well in advance
preceded by could, might, or may. indeed: you may well have to do it yourself
(informal) (intensifier): well safe
all very well, used ironically to express discontent, dissent, etc
as well

in addition; too
preceded by may or might. with equal effect: you might as well come
just as well, preferable or advisable: it would be just as well if you paid me now

as well as, in addition to
just leave well alone, just leave well enough alone, to refrain from interfering with something that is satisfactory
well and good, used to indicate calm acceptance, as of a decision: if you accept my offer, well and good
well up in, well acquainted with (a particular subject); knowledgeable about
adjective (usually postpositive)
(when prenominal, usually used with a negative) in good health: I’m very well, thank you, he’s not a well man
satisfactory, agreeable, or pleasing
prudent; advisable: it would be well to make no comment
prosperous or comfortable
fortunate or happy: it is well that you agreed to go

an expression of surprise, indignation, or reproof
an expression of anticipation in waiting for an answer or remark

sentence connector
an expression used to preface a remark, gain time, etc: well, I don’t think I will come
a hole or shaft that is excavated, drilled, bored, or cut into the earth so as to tap a supply of water, oil, gas, etc
a natural pool where ground water comes to the surface

a cavity, space, or vessel used to contain a liquid
(in combination): an inkwell

an open shaft through the floors of a building, such as one used for a staircase
a deep enclosed space in a building or between buildings that is open to the sky to permit light and air to enter

a bulkheaded compartment built around a ship’s pumps for protection and ease of access
another word for cockpit

a perforated tank in the hold of a fishing boat for keeping caught fish alive
(in England) the open space in the centre of a law court
a source, esp one that provides a continuous supply: he is a well of knowledge
to flow or cause to flow upwards or outwards: tears welled from her eyes
adjective better, best
having admirable, pleasing, superior, or positive qualities; not negative, bad or mediocre: a good idea, a good teacher

morally excellent or admirable; virtuous; righteous: a good man
(as collective noun; preceded by the): the good

suitable or efficient for a purpose: a good secretary, a good winter coat
beneficial or advantageous: vegetables are good for you
not ruined or decayed; sound or whole: the meat is still good
kindly, generous, or approving: you are good to him
right or acceptable: your qualifications are good for the job
rich and fertile: good land
valid or genuine: I would not do this without good reason
honourable or held in high esteem: a good family
commercially or financially secure, sound, or safe: good securities, a good investment
(of a draft) drawn for a stated sum
(of debts) expected to be fully paid
clever, competent, or talented: he’s good at science
obedient or well-behaved: a good dog
reliable, safe, or recommended: a good make of clothes
affording material pleasure or indulgence: the good things in life, the good life
having a well-proportioned, beautiful, or generally fine appearance: a good figure, a good complexion
complete; full: I took a good look round the house
propitious; opportune: a good time to ask the manager for a rise
satisfying or gratifying: a good rest
comfortable: did you have a good night?
newest or of the best quality: to keep the good plates for important guests
fairly large, extensive, or long: a good distance away
sufficient; ample: we have a good supply of food
(US) (of meat) of the third government grade, above standard and below choice
serious or intellectual: good music
used in a traditional description: the good ship “America”
used in polite or patronizing phrases or to express anger (often intended ironically): how is your good lady?, look here, my good man!
a good one

an unbelievable assertion
a very funny joke

as good as, virtually; practically: it’s as good as finished
as good as gold, excellent; very good indeed
be as good as to, be so good as to, would you please
come good, to recover and perform well after a bad start or setback
(informal) good and, (intensifier): good and mad
(intensifier; used in mild oaths): good grief!, good heavens!
an exclamation of approval, agreement, pleasure, etc
moral or material advantage or use; benefit or profit: for the good of our workers, what is the good of worrying?
positive moral qualities; goodness; virtue; righteousness; piety
(sometimes capital) moral qualities seen as a single abstract entity: we must pursue the Good
a good thing
(economics) a commodity or service that satisfies a human need
for good, for good and all, forever; permanently: I have left them for good
make good

to recompense or repair damage or injury
to be successful
to demonstrate or prove the truth of (a statement or accusation)
to secure and retain (a position)
to effect or fulfil (something intended or promised)

good on you, good for you, well done, well said, etc: a term of congratulation
(Irish) get any good of, get some good of

to handle to good effect: I never got any good of this machine
to understand properly: I could never get any good of him
to receive cooperation from


Old English beste, reduced by assimilation of -t- from earlier Old English betst “best, first, in the best manner,” originally superlative of bot “remedy, reparation,” the root word now only surviving in to boot (see boot (n.2)), though its comparative, better, and superlative, best, have been transferred to good (and in some cases well). From Proto-Germanic root *bat-, with comparative *batizon and superlative *batistaz (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Middle Dutch best, Old High German bezzist, German best, Old Norse beztr, Gothic batists).

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!


Best-seller as short for “best-selling book” is from 1902, apparently originally in the publishing trade; best friend was in Chaucer (late 14c.). Best girl is first attested 1881, American English; best man is 1814, originally Scottish, replacing groomsman. To be able to do something with the best of them is recorded by 1748.


“to get the better of,” 1863, from best (adj.). Related: Bested; besting.

c.1200, from best (adj.).

“in a satisfactory manner,” Old English wel, common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon wela, Old Norse vel, Old Frisian wel, Dutch wel, Old High German wela, German wohl, Gothic waila “well”), from PIE *wel-, *wol- (cf. Sanskrit prati varam “at will,” Old Church Slavonic vole “well,” Welsh gwell “better,” Latin velle “to wish, will,” Old English willan “to wish;” see will (v.)). Also used in Old English as an interjection and an expression of surprise. Well-to-do “prosperous” is recorded from 1825.

“to spring, rise, gush,” Old English wiellan (Anglian wællan), causative of weallan “to boil, bubble up” (class VII strong verb; past tense weoll, past participle weallen), from Proto-Germanic *wal-, *wel- “roll” (cf. Old Saxon wallan, Old Norse vella, Old Frisian walla, Old High German wallan, German wallen, Gothic wulan “to bubble, boil”), from PIE root *wel- “to turn, roll” (see volvox), on notion of “roiling or bubbling water.”

“hole dug for water, spring of water,” Old English wielle (West Saxon), welle (Anglian), from wiellan (see well (v.)).

Old English god (with a long “o”) “virtuous; desirable; valid; considerable,” probably originally “having the right or desirable quality,” from Proto-Germanic *gothaz (cf. Old Norse goðr, Dutch goed, Old High German guot, German gut, Gothic goþs), originally “fit, adequate, belonging together,” from PIE root *ghedh- “to unite, be associated, suitable” (cf. Old Church Slavonic godu “pleasing time,” Russian godnyi “fit, suitable,” Old English gædrian “to gather, to take up together”). As an expression of satisfaction, from early 15c.; of children, “well-behaved,” by 1690s.

Irregular comparatives (better, best) reflect a widespread pattern, cf. Latin bonus, melior, optimus. Good-for-nothing is from 1711. Good looking is attested from 1780 (good looks by c.1800). Good sport, of persons, is from 1906; good to go is attested from 1989. The good book “the Bible” attested from 1801, originally in missionary literature describing the language of conversion efforts in American Indian tribes.

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing. [“As You Like It”]


Old English gōd “that which is good, goodness; advantage, benefit; gift; virtue; property;” from good (adj.).

Best (běst), Charles Herbert. 1899-1978.

American-born Canadian physiologist noted for the discovery and successful clinical application of insulin.
American-born Canadian physiologist who assisted Frederick Banting in the discovery of the hormone insulin. In acknowledgment of his work, Banting shared his portion of the 1923 Nobel Prize with Best. In addition to further refining the use of insulin, Best later discovered the vitamin choline and the enzyme histaminase, which breaks down histamine.
A deep hole or shaft sunk into the Earth to tap a liquid or gaseous substance such as water, oil, gas, or brine. If the substance is not under sufficient pressure to flow freely from the well, it must be pumped or raised mechanically to the surface. Water or pressurized gas is sometimes pumped into a nonproducing oil well to push petroleum resources out of underground reservoirs. See also artesian well.

Related Terms

someone’s level best

Related Terms

be good, do-good, do-gooder, feel good, have it good, make good, no-good

(Heb. beer), to be distinguished from a fountain (Heb. ‘ain). A “beer” was a deep shaft, bored far under the rocky surface by the art of man, which contained water which percolated through the strata in its sides. Such wells were those of Jacob and Beersheba, etc. (see Gen. 21:19, 25, 30, 31; 24:11; 26:15, 18-25, 32, etc.). In the Pentateuch this word beer, so rendered, occurs twenty-five times.

best bib and tucker
best of both worlds, the
best part of something
best shot


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