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least */*/*/
UK [liːst] / US [lɪst] adjective, adverb, determiner, pronoun
Summary:

Least is the superlative form of little and can be used in the following ways: - as a determiner (followed by an uncountable noun): He generally takes the path of least resistance. (after "the"): These farming methods cause the least damage to the environment. - as a pronoun (without a following noun): People will choose the product that costs least. (after "the"): Abe works the hardest, yet he earns the least. (followed by "of"): That's the least of my problems. - as an adverb (after "the" and before an adjective): I think you are the least suitable person for the job. (followed by an adverb): Production was slowest where time was least efficiently used. (with a verb): She was kind to me when I least expected it. (after "the" with a verb): The money seems to go to the people who need it the least. - as an adjective: At the least sign of trouble, he gets scared and quits.
1) used for referring to a smaller amount than any other amount, or the smallest amount possible

The President seemed to be the one who knew least about the crisis.

He wonders why his most popular songs are always the ones he spends the least time on.

I earn the least out of all of us.

a) used for emphasizing how small something is, especially when it is so small that it almost does not exist

He's a light sleeper and wakes up at the least noise.

You don't have the least notion of how I'm feeling at the moment.

I doubt anything you say will make the least difference to what he does.

b) used for emphasizing that a particular problem is smaller or less important than other problems
the least of something:

I'll have to pay for the ticket, but that's the least of my worries.

Money is the least of my problems right now.

c) used for saying what the smallest amount that should be done about something is, and suggesting that more should really be done

The least you can do is listen to what I have to say before you reject it completely.

Let me pay for the dinner – it's the least I can do.

The least he deserves is a compliment from time to time.

2) used for saying that someone or something has less of a particular quality than anyone or anything else

Hungary is one of the least polluted of the former East-bloc states.

The least confusing route would be to get on the M6 at Birmingham.

The new taxes will fall on those least able to pay.

3)
a) used for saying that someone or something does something less often or to a smaller degree than anyone or anything else

This chair squeaks the least.

The man who actually won the car is the one who wanted it least.

b) used for mentioning that something happens less often or to a smaller degree than at any other time

Troubles come when you least expect them.

(in) the least= (in) the least bit — used for emphasizing a negative statement or question

I'm not the least surprised that she's leaving.

I'm not teaching anything the least bit challenging any more, and that is sad.

Weren't you concerned in the least about where your son was?

See:
last I, say I

English dictionary. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • least — [ list ] function word *** Least is the superlative form of little and can be used in the following ways: as a determiner (followed by an uncountable noun): He generally takes the path of least resistance. (after the ): These farming methods… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Least — (l[=e]st), a. [OE. last, lest, AS. l[=ae]sast, l[=ae]sest, superl. of l[=ae]ssa less. See {Less}, a.] [Used as the superlative of little.] Smallest, either in size or degree; shortest; lowest; most unimportant; as, the least insect; the least… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — ► DETERMINER & PRONOUN (usu. the least) ▪ smallest in amount, extent, or significance. ► ADJECTIVE ▪ used in names of very small animals and plants: least shrew. ► ADVERB ▪ to the smallest extent or degree. ● at least Cf. ↑ …   English terms dictionary

  • least — [lēst] adj. [ME lest < OE læsest, læst, superl. of læssa, LESS] 1. alt. superl. of LITTLE 2. smallest or slightest in size, degree, importance, etc. [the least movement] 3. Biol. very small: used in names of species or varieties [least… …   English World dictionary

  • least — 1. Least of all means ‘especially not’ and should only be used in negative contexts: • I am not going to try to play the role of prophet, least of all Jeremiah Listener, 1973. 2. Use less, not least, when contrasting two things: • The latter… …   Modern English usage

  • Least — Least, adv. In the smallest or lowest degree; in a degree below all others; as, to reward those who least deserve it. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — least; least·ways; least·wise; …   English syllables

  • Least — Least, conj. See {Lest}, conj. [Obs.] Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — (adj.) O.E. læst, earlier læsest smallest (superlative of lytel small ), from P.Gmc. superlative *laisistaz (see LESS (Cf. less)). Qualifying phrase at least is M.E. æt læstan. As a noun, from early 12c.; as an adverb, c.1200 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Least — may refer to: *Little *Child …   Wikipedia

  • least — index minimal Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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