Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Greater in excellence or higher in quality.
  • adj. More useful, suitable, or desirable: found a better way to go; a suit with a better fit than that one.
  • adj. More highly skilled or adept: I am better at math than English.
  • adj. Greater or larger: argued for the better part of an hour.
  • adj. More advantageous or favorable; improved: a better chance of success.
  • adj. Healthier or more fit than before: The patient is better today.
  • adv. In a more excellent way.
  • adv. To a greater extent or degree: better suited to the job; likes it better without sauce.
  • adv. To greater advantage; preferably: a deed better left undone. See Usage Notes at best, have, rather.
  • adv. More: It took me better than a year to recover.
  • n. One that is greater in excellence or higher in quality.
  • n. A superior, as in standing, competence, or intelligence. Usually used in the plural: to learn from one's betters.
  • transitive v. To make better; improve: trying to better conditions in the prison; bettered myself by changing jobs. See Synonyms at improve.
  • transitive v. To surpass or exceed.
  • intransitive v. To become better.
  • idiom better off In a better or more prosperous condition: would be better off taking the train instead of driving; felt better off after the rise in stock prices.
  • idiom for the better Resulting in or aiming at an improvement: Her condition took a turn for the better.
  • idiom get To outdo or outwit; defeat.
  • idiom think better of To change one's mind about (a course of action) after reconsideration: I almost bought an expensive watch, but then I thought better of it.
  • n. Variant of bettor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. comparative form of good or well: more good or well
  • adv. comparative form of well: more well
  • v. To improve.
  • v. Had better.
  • n. An entity, usually animate, deemed superior to another.
  • n. Alternative spelling of bettor.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • In a superior or more excellent manner; with more skill and wisdom, courage, virtue, advantage, or success.
  • More correctly or thoroughly.
  • In a higher or greater degree; more.
  • More, in reference to value, distance, time, etc..
  • adj. Having good qualities in a greater degree than another.
  • adj. Preferable in regard to rank, value, use, fitness, acceptableness, safety, or in any other respect.
  • adj. Greater in amount; larger; more.
  • adj. Improved in health; less affected with disease.
  • adj. More advanced; more perfect.
  • n. Advantage, superiority, or victory; -- usually with of.
  • n. One who has a claim to precedence; a superior, as in merit, social standing, etc.; -- usually in the plural.
  • n. One who bets or lays a wager.
  • intransitive v. To become better; to improve.
  • transitive v. To improve or ameliorate; to increase the good qualities of.
  • transitive v. To improve the condition of, morally, physically, financially, socially, or otherwise.
  • transitive v. To surpass in excellence; to exceed; to excel.
  • transitive v. To give advantage to; to support; to advance the interest of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • As comparative of good: Of superior quality or excellence, whether personal, physical, mental, moral, or social, essential or acquired: as, he is a better man than his brother; better times are at hand; a better position.
  • Of superior value, use, fitness, acceptableness, etc.; more profitable or suitable for a purpose; more useful, eligible, or desirable: as, copper is a better conductor than iron.
  • Larger; greater: as, the better part of a day was spent in shopping.
  • As comparative of well: More in accordance with one's wish or desire; more satisfactory.
  • More healthy; having sounder health.
  • More just, right, or proper.
  • To be quite well again; be fully recovered.
  • n. That which has superior excellence; that which is better.
  • n. A superior; one who has a claim to precedence on account of rank, age, merit, skill, power, or office: as, give place to your betters.
  • n. Advantage; superiority; victory: chiefly in the phrases to get, gain, or have the better of (a person or thing).
  • In a more excellent way or manner: as, to behave better; the land is better cultivated and the government better administered.
  • In a superior degree: as, to know a man better than some one else knows him.
  • More, without any idea of superior excellence: as, it is better than a mile to the town.
  • To make better; improve; ameliorate; increase the good qualities of; as, manure betters land; discipline may better the morals.
  • To improve upon; surpass; exceed; outdo.
  • To advance the interest of; support; give advantage to.
  • Synonyms Amend, Improve, Better, etc. (see amend), meliorate, promote.
  • To grow better; become better; improve: as, his condition is bettering.
  • n. One who lays bets or wagers. Also bettor.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (comparative of `good') changed for the better in health or fitness
  • adv. from a position of superiority or authority
  • n. the superior one of two alternatives
  • v. to make better
  • v. surpass in excellence
  • adj. (comparative of `good') superior to another (of the same class or set or kind) in excellence or quality or desirability or suitability; more highly skilled than another
  • n. something superior in quality or condition or effect
  • n. someone who bets
  • adj. (comparative and superlative of `well') wiser or more advantageous and hence advisable
  • adj. more than half
  • v. get better
  • n. a superior person having claim to precedence
  • adv. comparative of `well'; in a better or more excellent manner or more advantageously or attractively or to a greater degree etc.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English betera.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English better, bettre, from Old English betera ("better"), from Proto-Germanic *batizô (“better”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhAd- (“good”). Cognate with Sanskrit  (bhadrá, "blessed, fortunate, happy, good"). For Germanic cognates: see Proto-Germanic *batizô. Verb is from Middle English beteren, from Old English beterian ("to make better, improve"). Related to best. Compare also Icelandic batna ("to improve"), Icelandic bót ("improvement"). More at batten, boot. (Wiktionary)
Alternate pronunciation of bettor or modern formation from the verb to bet. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We would do better to say: _more_ is often _better_ , but _most_ is rarely _best_ , especially if we fail to measure everything together, tangible and intangible alike.

    Who Loses From Efficiency?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • Popper held, that even if a theory t2 with a higher content than a rival theory t1 is subsequently falsified, it can still legitimately be regarded as a better theory than t1, and ˜better™ is here now understood to mean t2 is closer to the truth than t1.

    Karl Popper

  • Most of the contemporary "political poetry" I've read remain mired in authorial biography (granted, it could be a function of my reading habit) -- they were writ primarily to make the authors feel better (by *feel better*, it includes ranting against abuse).

    POLITICS, ON THE POEM'S OWN TERMS

  • People are better than their creeds, and, it should seem, sometimes _better_ than _their_ principles.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 56, Number 348

  • Were they, after all, with all their muddy color and uncertain composition, better -- actually _better_, in the fundamentals that count, than those two glorified forms that ruled the room?

    The Genius

  • The idealists planned and strove and shouted that their city should become a better, better, and better city—and what they meant, when they used the word “better, ” was “more prosperous, ” and the core of their idealism was this: “The more prosperous my beloved city, the more prosperous beloved I!

    Chapter 28

  • Bright knew his Englishmen better than Lowell did, —better than England did.

    Eccentricity (1863)

  • First, _Know what you want to say_; second, _Say it_; third, _Use your own language_; fourth, _Leave out all the fine passages_; fifth, _A short word is better than a long one_; sixth, _The fewer words, other things being equal, the better_; finally, _Cut it to pieces_.

    The Writer, Volume VI, April 1892. A Monthly Magazine to Interest and Help All Literary Workers

  • "You were Peter Grimm," she said, "before you knew better" -- that's what _they_ call leaving _this_ world -- "_to know better_."

    The Return of Peter Grimm

  • Some people are too late for everything but ruin; when a nobleman apologized to George III. for being late, and said, "better late than never," the king replied, "No, I say, _better never than late_."

    How to Succeed or, Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune

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