from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Most inferior, as in quality, condition, or effect.
  • adjective Most severe or unfavorable.
  • adjective Being furthest from an ideal or a standard; least desirable or satisfactory.
  • adverb In the worst manner or degree.
  • transitive verb To gain the advantage over; defeat.
  • noun Something that is worst.
  • idiom (at (the) worst) Under the most negative circumstances, estimation, or interpretation.
  • idiom (get/have) To suffer a defeat or disadvantage.
  • idiom (if (the) worst comes to (the) worst) If the very worst thing happens.
  • idiom (in the worst way) Very much; a great deal.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • The superlative of bad, evil, or ill; bad in the highest degree, whether morally, physically, financially, or otherwise: as, the worst sinner; the worst disease; the worst evil that can befall a state or an individual.
  • noun That which is most evil or bad; the most bad, severe, aggravated, or calamitous thing, part, time, or state: usually with the: as, in the worst of the storm; to get the worst of a contest; to see a thing at its worst; to do one's worst.
  • noun in the most evil, severe, or undesirable state; at the greatest disadvantage.
  • In a manner or to a degree the extreme of bad or evil; most or least (according to the sense of the verb).
  • To get the advantage over in a contest; defeat; overthrow.
  • Synonyms To beat, discomfit, foil, overcome.
  • To grow worse; deteriorate; worsen.

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

  • noun That which is most bad or evil; the most severe, pernicious, calamitous, or wicked state or degree.
  • Bad, evil, or pernicious, in the highest degree, whether in a physical or moral sense. See worse.
  • intransitive verb rare To grow worse; to deteriorate.
  • transitive verb To gain advantage over, in contest or competition; to get the better of; to defeat; to overthrow; to discomfit.

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

  • adjective superlative form of bad: most bad.
  • adverb In the worst way: most badly, most ill.
  • verb archaic, transitive To make worse.
  • verb dated, intransitive To grow worse; to deteriorate.
  • verb rare To outdo or defeat, especially in battle.

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

  • adjective (superlative of `bad') most wanting in quality or value or condition
  • noun the least favorable outcome
  • adverb to the highest degree of inferiority or badness
  • noun the weakest effort or poorest achievement one is capable of
  • noun the greatest damage or wickedness of which one is capable
  • verb defeat thoroughly


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

[Middle English, from Old English wyrsta; see wers- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • BEST and WORST are synonyms when used as verbs:

    he bested his opponent, he worsted his opponent

    But they’re antonyms when used as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns:

    the best player, the worst player

    it best suits his skills, it worst suits his skills

    I am the best, I am the worst

    November 16, 2009