Meaning of LEAST in English


1. less than any other

2. the smallest amount or number of something

3. to be at the lowest level




see also



1. less than any other

▷ least /liːst/ [adverb]

▪ We were the least successful team in the competition.

▪ Portugal would be my least favourite choice.

▪ The people who are least able to afford healthcare are often the ones who need it most.

▪ Air-conditioning is standard except on the least expensive model.

▪ Which job would you least like to do?

2. the smallest amount or number of something

▷ the least /ðə ˈliːst/ [quantifier]

the smallest amount of something :

the least

▪ We decided to buy the one that cost the least.

▪ Those who have been in the most danger have the least to say about it.

▪ Of all the EU countries, Britain spends the least on higher education.

▪ The least I would expect would be an apology I’d like more than just an apology .

the least water/money/time etc

▪ After trials, we chose the engine that used the least fuel.

▪ I was the youngest, so I always got the least pocket money.

▪ We’ve selected recipes that take the least time to prepare.

▪ Find a route that is likely to have the least traffic.

▪ We thought this decision would produce the least harm and disruption to residents.

▷ minimum /ˈmɪnɪməm, ˈmɪnəməm/ [adjective/quantifier]

the smallest possible number or amount of something or the smallest number or amount that is allowed :

▪ The minimum salary for this post is $25,000.

▪ We need a minimum number of two staff members on duty at lunchtime.

▪ Frank was moved to a minimum-security prison for good behaviour.

minimum height/length/age/wage etc

▪ These workers are being paid less than the minimum wage.

▪ The minimum age at which you can legally buy tobacco is 18.

▪ The Police Department has reduced the minimum height requirement to encourage more women to join the force.

reduce/keep something to a minimum

make the amount or number of something as small as possible

▪ Interruptions should be kept to a minimum.

▪ The library book stock has already been reduced to a minimum.

▪ We want to keep the number of mistakes to a minimum.

minimum of

▪ This will enable the patient to move with a minimum of discomfort.

▪ The course takes a minimum of three years.

▪ Even for local games, you have to pay a minimum of $45 per game.

the minimum

▪ Five people in a group should be the minimum.

bare minimum

use this to emphasize how small the amount is

▪ A tiny crack in the tent allowed the bare minimum of light in.

▷ the fewest /ðə ˈfjuːə̇st/ [quantifier]

the smallest number of something :

▪ We plan to do the repairs in winter, when we have the fewest visitors.

▪ Single men make the fewest complaints about women bosses.

▪ Towns with the fewest amenities are usually the ones with the highest crime rates.

▪ Young drivers under 25 have the highest number of accidents while those over 50 have the fewest.

▪ In 1998, there were 71 homicides, the fewest since the 1950s.

▷ the lowest /ðə ˈləʊə̇st/ [adjective]

use this about numbers, prices, wages, temperatures, or levels :

▪ In the last election, he was the candidate who got the lowest number of votes.

▪ People who drank the least coffee had the lowest level of blood pressure.

▪ The lowest charge for a rented car is $30 a day.

▪ Does the company offering the lowest price really offer the best value?

the lowest for 6 months/in 15 years/since 2000 etc

▪ Interest rates are only 4%, the lowest for 25 years.

▪ The infant mortality rate in Vietnam is now the lowest since 1997.

▪ Overseas demand for corn is the lowest in 20 years.

3. to be at the lowest level

▷ an all-time low /ən ˌɔːl taɪm ˈləʊ/ [noun phrase]

the lowest level ever reached :

be at an all-time low

▪ Exports of manufactured goods are now at an all-time low.

▪ Morale at the company is at an all-time low, and staff are leaving in droves.

sink to/fall to/reach an all-time low

▪ Ratings for the once-popular game show seem to have reached an all-time low.

▪ The president’s popularity has fallen to an all-time low.

▷ low/lowest ebb /ˌləʊ, ˌləʊə̇st ˈeb/ [singular noun]

the lowest level of success, hope, health etc :

be at its/their lowest ebb

▪ Consumer confidence is at its lowest ebb since January.

▪ With the company’s fortunes at their lowest ebb for 25 years, lay-offs seem inevitable.

something sinks/falls to its lowest ebb

▪ In the late 1980s, her career sank to its lowest ebb.

▪ Relations with Washington have fallen to their lowest ebb.

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