Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • noun That which has superior excellence; that which is better.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Advantage; superiority; victory: chiefly in the phrases to get, gain, or have the better of (a person or thing).
  • noun One who lays bets or wagers. Also bettor.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Advantage, superiority, or victory; -- usually with of.
  • noun One who has a claim to precedence; a superior, as in merit, social standing, etc.; -- usually in the plural.
  • noun in the way of improvement; so as to produce improvement.
  • intransitive verb To become better; to improve.
  • noun One who bets or lays a wager.
  • adjective Having good qualities in a greater degree than another.
  • adjective Preferable in regard to rank, value, use, fitness, acceptableness, safety, or in any other respect.
  • adjective Greater in amount; larger; more.
  • adjective Improved in health; less affected with disease.
  • adjective More advanced; more perfect.
  • adjective See under All, adv.
  • adjective an expression used to designate one's wife.
  • adjective to be in a better condition.
  • adjective (See under Had).
  • 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.
  • colloq. More, in reference to value, distance, time, etc..
  • to have a more favorable opinion of any one.
  • to reconsider and alter one's decision.
  • transitive verb To improve or ameliorate; to increase the good qualities of.
  • transitive verb To improve the condition of, morally, physically, financially, socially, or otherwise.
  • transitive verb To surpass in excellence; to exceed; to excel.
  • transitive verb obsolete To give advantage to; to support; to advance the interest of.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective comparative form of good or well: more good or well
  • adverb comparative form of well: more well
  • verb transitive To improve.
  • verb Had better.
  • noun An entity, usually animate, deemed superior to another.
  • noun Alternative spelling of bettor.

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

  • adjective (comparative of `good') changed for the better in health or fitness

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Alternate pronunciation of bettor or modern formation from the verb to bet.

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

  • 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).

    Archive 2007-10-01

  • 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

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

    Eccentricity (1863)

  • 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

  • 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

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