adjective, compar. of good with best as superl.
- of superior quality or excellence: a better coat; a better speech.
- morally superior; more virtuous: They are no better than thieves.
- of superior suitability, advisability, desirability, acceptableness, etc.; preferable: a better time for action.
- larger; greater: the better part of a lifetime.
- improved in health; healthier than before.
- completely recovered in health.
adverb, compar. of well with best as superl.
- in a more appropriate or acceptable way or manner: to behave better.
- to a greater degree; more completely or thoroughly: He knows the way better than we do. I probably know him better than anyone else.
- more: I walked better than a mile to town.
verb (used with object)
- to increase the good qualities of; make better; improve: to better one’s grades; to better the lot of the suburban commuter.
- to improve upon; surpass; exceed: We have bettered last year’s production record.
- Cards. to raise (a previous bid).
- that which has greater excellence or is preferable or wiser: the better of two choices.
- Usually betters. those superior to one in wisdom, wealth, etc.
- better off,
- in better circumstances.
- more fortunate; happier: Because of his asthma, he would be better off in a different climate.
- better oneself, to improve one’s social standing, financial position, or education: He is going to night school because he wants to better himself.
- for the better, in a way that is an improvement: His health changed for the better.
- get/have the better of,
- to get an advantage over.
- to prevail against.
- go (someone) one better, to exceed the effort of; be superior to: The neighbors went us one better by buying two new cars.
- had better, would be wiser or more well-advised to; ought to: We had better stay indoors today.
- no better than one should be, morally inferior; immoral or amoral: Don’t speak to him; he’s no better than he should be!
- think better of,
- to reconsider and decide more favorably or wisely regarding: I was tempted to make a sarcastic retort, but thought better of it.
- to form a higher opinion of: I think better of him now that he’s gone back to college.
- the comparative of good
- more excellent than other members of a particular group, category, etc
- more suitable, advantageous, attractive, etc
- improved in health
- fully recovered in health
- in more favourable circumstances, esp financially
- better off in more favourable circumstances, esp financially
- the better part of a large part ofthe better part of a day
- the comparative of well 1
- in a more excellent manner; more advantageously, attractively, etc
- in or to a greater degree or extent; moreshe is better loved than her sister
- go one better (Brit intr; US tr) to outdo (a person) or improve upon (someone else’s effort)
- had better would be wise, sensible, etc toI had better be off
- know better than to not to be so stupid as to
- think better of
- to change one’s course of action after reconsideration
- to rate (a person) more highly
- the better something that is the more excellent, useful, etc, of two such things
- (usually plural) a person who is superior, esp in social standing or ability
- all the better for improved as a result of
- all the better to more suitable to
- for better for worse whatever the subsequent events or changes may be
- for the better by way of improvementa change for the better
- get the better of to defeat, outwit, or surpass
- the better of Irish having recovered fromI’m not the better of it yet
- to make or become better
- (tr) to improve upon; surpass
- a person who bets
Old English bettra, earlier betera, from Proto-Germanic *batizo-, from PIE *bhad- “good;” see best. Comparative adjective of good in the older Germanic languages (cf. Old Frisian betera, Old Saxon betiro, Old Norse betr, Danish bedre, Old High German bezziro, German besser, Gothic batiza). In English it superseded bet in the adverbial sense by 1600. Better half “wife” is first attested 1570s.
late 12c., “that which is better,” from better (adj.). Specific meaning “one’s superior” is from early 14c. To get the better of (someone) is from 1650s, from better in a sense of “superiority, mastery,” which is recorded from mid-15c.
Old English *beterian “improve, amend, make better,” from Proto-Germanic *batizojan (cf. Old Frisian beteria, Dutch beteren, Old Norse betra, Old High German baziron, German bessern), from *batiz- (see better (adj.)). Related: Bettered; bettering.
In addition to the idioms beginning with better
- better half
- better late than never
- better off
- better part of
- better safe than sorry
- better than
- against one’s better judgment
- all better
- all the better
- discretion is the better part of valor
- for better or for worse
- get better
- get the better (best) of
- go one better
- had better (best)
- know better
- seen better days
- so much the better
- sooner the better
- take a turn for the better
- think better of
- you’d better believe it
Also see underbest.