Meaning of LEAST in English

LEAST

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Note: 'Least' is often considered to be the superlative form of 'little'.

1.

You use at ~ to say that a number or amount is the smallest that is possible or likely and that the actual number or amount may be greater. The forms at the ~ and at the very ~ are also used.

Aim to have at ~ half a pint of milk each day...

Normally it has only had eleven or twelve members in all. Now it will have seventeen at the very ~.

PHRASE: PHR amount, amount PHR

2.

You use at ~ to say that something is the minimum that is true or possible. The forms at the ~ and at the very ~ are also used.

She could take a nice holiday at ~...

At the ~, I needed some sleep...

His possession of classified documents in his home was, at the very ~, a violation of Navy security regulations.

PHRASE: PHR with cl/group

3.

You use at ~ to indicate an advantage that exists in spite of the disadvantage or bad situation that has just been mentioned.

We’ve no idea what his state of health is but at ~ we know he is still alive...

If something awful happens to you at ~ you can write about it.

PHRASE: PHR with cl

4.

You use at ~ to indicate that you are correcting or changing something that you have just said.

It’s not difficult to get money for research or at ~ it’s not always difficult...

PHRASE: PHR with cl/group

5.

You use the ~ to mean a smaller amount than anyone or anything else, or the smallest amount possible.

I try to offend the ~ amount of people possible...

If you like cheese, go for the ones with the ~ fat.

? most

ADJ: the ADJ n

Least is also a pronoun.

On education funding, Japan performs best but spends the ~ per student.

? most

PRON: the PRON

Least is also an adverb.

Damming the river may end up benefitting those who need it the ~.

ADV: the ADV after v

6.

You use ~ to indicate that someone or something has less of a particular quality than most other things of its kind.

The ~ experienced athletes had caused a great many false-starts through the day’s proceedings...

? most

ADV: ADV adj/adv

7.

You use the ~ to emphasize the smallness of something, especially when it hardly exists at all.

I don’t have the ~ idea of what you’re talking about...

They neglect their duty at the ~ hint of fun elsewhere...

ADJ: the ADJ n emphasis

8.

You use ~ to indicate that something is true or happens to a smaller degree or extent than anything else or at any other time.

He had a way of throwing her off guard with his charm when she ~ expected it.

? most

ADV: ADV with v

9.

You use ~ in structures where you are emphasizing that a particular situation or event is much less important or serious than other possible or actual ones.

Having to get up at three o’clock every morning was the ~ of her worries...

At that moment, they were among the ~ of the concerns of the government.

ADJ: ADJ of def-n emphasis

10.

You use the ~ in structures where you are stating the minimum that should be done in a situation, and suggesting that more should really be done.

Well, the ~ you can do, if you won’t help me yourself, is to tell me where to go instead...

The ~ his hotel could do is provide a little privacy.

PRON: the PRON cl

11.

You can use in the ~ and the ~ bit to emphasize a negative.

I’m not like that at all. Not in the ~...

I’m not in the ~ bit touched by the Marilyn Monroe kind of beauty...

Alice wasn’t the ~ bit frightened.

PHRASE: with brd-neg, PHR with cl, PHR adj emphasis

12.

You use last but not ~ to say that the last person or thing to be mentioned is as important as all the others.

...her four sons, Christopher, twins Daniel and Nicholas, and last but not ~ 2-year-old Jack.

PHRASE: PHR with cl/group

13.

You can use ~ of all after a negative statement to emphasize that it applies especially to the person or thing mentioned.

No one ever reads these articles, ~ of all me...

Such a speech should never have been made, ~ of all by a so called responsible politician.

PHRASE: with brd-neg, PHR cl/group emphasis

14.

You can use not ~ to emphasize a particularly important example or reason.

Dieting can be bad for you, not ~ because it is a cause of stress...

Everyone is more reluctant to travel these days, not ~ the Americans.

PHRASE: PHR cl/group emphasis

15.

You can use to say the ~ to suggest that a situation is actually much more extreme or serious than you say it is.

Accommodation was basic to say the ~...

Some members of the public can be a bit abusive to say the ~.

PHRASE: PHR with cl emphasis

Collins COBUILD.      Толковый словарь английского языка для изучающих язык Коллинз COBUILD (международная база данных языков Бирмингемского университета) .