General English


  • adjective very good, better than all others


  • exclamation
    (written as best!)
    an ambivalent exclamation that may indicate approval or the sarcastic reverse; in these senses it has been defined by one of its users as ‘that’s good, ain’t it?’ ‘Not!’. The term was recorded in use among North London schoolboys in 1993 and 1994.


  • noun someone or something of the highest quality or standard
  • noun the best time or score that someone has achieved in a sport or game

Origin & History of “best”

Best and better, the anomalous superlative and comparative of good, go back to a prehistoric Germanic base *bat-, which is related to the archaic English boot ‘remedy’ (as in to boot) and meant generally ‘advantage, improvement’. Its comparative and superlative were *batizon and *batistaz, which came into Old English as respectively betera and betest (gradually reduced via betst to best).

The term best man originated in Scotland; it has gradually replaced the earlier bride(s)man and groomsman.