Main definitions of better in English

: better1better2



  • 1More desirable, satisfactory, or effective.

    ‘we're hoping for better weather tomorrow’
    ‘the new facilities were far better’
    ‘I'm better at doing sums than Alice’
    • ‘Darling's HOV lane is typical of a government better at style than substance.’
    • ‘Unfortunately he's better at Playstation than I am, so I don't think I won anything.’
    • ‘Get someone else to do it preferably someone who is better at it than you are.’
    • ‘As usual, expect me to steal many of Marcia's links, because she's much better at finding them than I am.’
    • ‘Swindon is getting better at recycling but is still not good enough.’
    • ‘The high street is getting better at delivering good, fashionable styles and is great for an instant trend hit.’
    • ‘We have the potential to be heard better, so we should take advantage of this.’
    • ‘Smaller, lighter cars are much better at taking evasive action and are therefore much less likely to crash at all.’
    • ‘They need to be more focused and the Irish are getting better at it, she says.’
    • ‘Maybe Microsoft just happens to be truly better at security than Linux?’
    • ‘So we are getting better at it, but when someone comes after you, you have to go back at them.’
    • ‘We are getting better at being variety conscious, and supermarkets must display the variety at point of sale.’
    • ‘I think in these past five years, Mike and I have gotten much better at setting up grooves.’
    • ‘Now does that mean we all can't be a little better at what we do or be a little more responsible?’
    • ‘Blood is better at killing bacteria than muscle, so addicts who insist on injecting are being told to hit a vein instead.’
    • ‘The movement that has always been best at spontaneity is going to have to become better at synthesis.’
    • ‘In actual fact we'll get better at doing all this stuff in future years, right?’
    • ‘Kim wasn't there, but luckily we're getting better at managing problems on our own.’
    • ‘Every girl has something on her mind that she wishes she were better at, or did less or more of.’
    • ‘I can't skip rope worth a damn, so this is one of the first things they're way better at than I am.’
    superior, finer, of higher quality, greater, in a different class, one step ahead
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1More appropriate, advantageous, or well advised.
      ‘there couldn't be a better time to take up this job’
      ‘it might be better to borrow the money’
      • ‘There has never been a better time for singles to take advantage of their solo status.’
      • ‘My message is that hostility can be turned to our advantage if we're better, smarter, wiser at the end of the season.’
      • ‘It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.’
      • ‘Such rates will be relied on, however, only where no better guide is appropriate or available.’
      • ‘I'll give it more thought, and try to present you with a better argument for the advantages.’
      • ‘Instead, his flight team altered his projected route to take advantage of better winds.’
      • ‘Both the winner and the runner-up will be seen to better advantage over a longer trip.’
      • ‘The runner up came from a long way back and should be seen to better advantage over an extended trip.’
      • ‘It's better to go on to Bloworth Crossing, my favourite junction on the moors.’
      • ‘Is it better to turn my computer off when I am not using it or leave it on all the time?’
      • ‘It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.’
      • ‘Do you think it is better to be tall or short?’
      • ‘What better time to take advantage of the tranquility and beauty of Siam Country Club!’
      • ‘Will he also explain how a fair tax burden delivers appropriate and better public services?’
      • ‘Ever a favourite of mine, her eyeshadows have never been better.’
      • ‘So I thought it would be better to wait a little longer and have an appropriate time to do it.’
      • ‘For the future, there has to be a better way of approving major municipal borrowing decisions.’
      • ‘Apparently it's better to be in favour of marriage than to be against outrageous idiocy.’
      • ‘So you have the better advantage of learning a new art form and keeping in good shape.’
      • ‘Now they defiantly had a bigger advantage, and a better chance of winning.’
      more advantageous, more suitable, more fitting, more appropriate, more useful, more valuable, more desirable
      View synonyms
  • 2[predicative or as complement] Partly or fully recovered from illness, injury, or mental stress.

    ‘his leg was getting better’
    • ‘The vice president has said he didn't regret cursing at the senator earlier this week, and said he felt better after the incident.’
    • ‘He is getting older and older, but he is better today than he was two years ago.’
    • ‘Wishing both a great time and hoping that Jim's hand injury will soon get better.’
    • ‘She also says that where she is now is better because of recovery and rehabilitation facilities.’
    • ‘If the scans show the injury is getting better, then we can take a risk and play him.’
    • ‘I'm better today but I ache all over and feel like a steam roller hit me.’
    • ‘Sadly, a lot of this is due to the over use of antibiotics for illnesses which would get better on their own.’
    healthier, fitter, stronger, less ill
    View synonyms


  • 1More excellently or effectively.

    ‘Jonathon could do better if he tried’
    ‘sound travels better in water than in air’
    ‘instruments are generally better made these days’
    • ‘In a study of 12 adults and three children, she determined they need hearing aids with a uni-directional microphone to better hear speech.’
    • ‘Sound travels better and faster in water than in air, so the sea is a perfect place for acoustic advertising.’
    • ‘Men should travel to associate themselves better with the outside world and to find their place within it.’
    • ‘A tennis coach shares tennis tips and instruction videos on how to play better tennis.’
    • ‘We are here to help you do better in your translation business.’
    • ‘Most teachers believe that students learn better when abstract concepts are taught using concrete materials or examples’
    • ‘Cash for low income working parents can help their kids do better at school.’
    • ‘Beck could see far better in the water now, the floodlights on the dock illuminating the water in front of him.’
    • ‘Not a word about how we are going to better distribute the surplus water that the country already has.’
    • ‘It also showed that women hear better than men.’
    • ‘Whilst sound carries better in water than in air, that hasn't stopped mammals from using sonar in the air too.’
    • ‘With the advantage of the slope, Thanet played better in the second half.’
    • ‘Do you remember better in your first language?’
    • ‘Users don't learn to search better.’
    • ‘Dale asked the client a few questions to understand his needs better and made appropriate notes.’
    • ‘It has been shown that schoolkids who eat protein at breakfast concentrate better at school, and so learn better.’
    • ‘Exercise will help improve your physical health and help you cope with stress better.’
    • ‘Breast-fed babies breathe better if mom doesn’t have allergies.’
    • ‘They are likely to be more cosmopolitan, better educated and well travelled.’
    • ‘The listener places a microphone near the specific source in which he/she wishes to hear better.’
    • ‘Two heads learn better than one.’
    to a higher standard, in a finer way, in a superior way
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1To a greater degree; more (used in connection with success or with desirable actions or conditions)
      ‘I liked it better when we lived in the country’
      ‘well-fed people are better able to fight off infection’
      • ‘I would have to say yes, many people do like pets better than other people.’
      • ‘It was a stunning success, made better by the fact that we did not break off for food.’
      • ‘Chen also asked for medical equipment to be placed in his glass box to better monitor his condition.’
      • ‘Now may be a time better suited for prudence than paranoia.’
      • ‘Insect remains are better suited for fight against pests.’
      • ‘How can I obtain employment that is better suited to my level of education?’
      • ‘Cows don't like damp conditions, they milk better with the sun on their backs.’
      • ‘Which crop is better suited; grain or sorghum?’
      • ‘They simply adapted to the conditions better and have now crept up on Ayr, who remain third and this season will go no higher.’
      • ‘Cue Andrew, whose style of bowling suited the conditions far better.’
      • ‘He admits he finds it hard to share his life, saying he is independent, and even that he may be better suited to living alone.’
      • ‘The way he has behaved here sometimes, though, you wonder if he would not be better suited to live action.’
      • ‘I liked it better when it was called Pricewatch.’
      • ‘As I said, the players are better used to the conditions in the subcontinent.’
      • ‘I liked him better on television.’
      • ‘Hopefully, the world will be better able to live with itself in peace.’
      • ‘E-learning is good for mass learning and development, but it's better suited to delivering training to ensure organizations comply with the latest rules’
      • ‘We would like to understand better the connection between gamma ray bursts and supernovae.’
      • ‘As the rain fell Carrickmore seemingly were able to cope with the adverse conditions better.’
      • ‘That's the only way we can make the living conditions of officers better.’
      more, to a greater degree
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2More suitably, appropriately, or usefully.
      ‘the money could be better spent on more urgent cases’
      • ‘I should have thought union time would be better spent fighting for better deals for those at the bottom of the tree.’
      • ‘Put it another way - would your money have done better if the shares it was invested in had been chosen with a pin?’
      • ‘There will be those who will automatically say that the money could be better spent in a city where there is so much that needs to be done.’
      • ‘He too believes the money would be better spent on prevention of disease.’
      • ‘Critics claim the programme is a soft option and say the money would be better spent on helping child victims of the offenders.’
      • ‘Money would be much better spent on opening railway stations further out - like Calverley.’
      • ‘They say the money and time would be better spent trying to change sexual behaviour.’
      • ‘Every penny spent on their administration is money that would be better spent on front-line services.’
      • ‘It was felt the money could have been better spent, and at a peace rally the flagpole was burned by protesters.’
      • ‘I jovially implied that the money would be far better spent in a place like war ravaged Sudan.’
      • ‘Won't all of it be money that could be better spent fixing schools and hospitals instead?’
      • ‘Now I am all in favour of sport, but I believe that this money could be better spent.’
      • ‘The money could have been better spent if it had been spent sooner.’
      • ‘So the question is, would the money have been better spent if the Republicans hadn't gotten their way?’
      • ‘I think the money would be better spent organising an event in Scotland.’
      • ‘So there doesn't seem to be much harm in making them better and more useful.’
      • ‘But it is likely to come with a hefty price tag, and the money may be better spent in a growth sector such as radio.’
      • ‘But patient groups believe that the money could be better spent on nursing staff and cleaners.’
      • ‘Money would be better spent pumping up the manufacturing and service industries.’
      • ‘Young believes profits are better spent finding and targeting new niches.’
      more wisely, more sensibly, more suitably, more fittingly, more advantageously
      View synonyms


  • 1[mass noun] The better one; that which is better.

    ‘the Natural History Museum book is by far the better of the two’
    ‘you've a right to expect better than that’
    ‘a change for the better’
    • ‘That may be pushing it, but several facets have changed dramatically for the better.’
    • ‘Till then, think about it and try to change at least your attitude in favour of a better.’
    • ‘If one was a great leader in some sense, did one really change the world for the better?’
    • ‘There were a lot of things that stayed the same and a lot of things that changed and for the better.’
    • ‘Who controls the purse strings and what the people in the companies aim at will hopefully be the only change and for the better.’
    • ‘In a word, he altered all the poor girl's prospects, as we then hoped and believed, for the better.’
    • ‘Most politicians are motivated by the wish to change things for the better: the bad hats stand out.’
    • ‘Having been given to a boy instead of the expected girl, Mandi's life has changed for the better.’
    • ‘The dumber android is the better, say experts.’
    • ‘The world has been actively and consciously changed for the better in the past.’
    • ‘Education brings about dialogue and hence the society could be changed for the better.’
    • ‘I have high hopes that he will be able to change the way we look at sports, for the better.’
  • 2humorous, dated One's superiors in social class or ability.

    ‘educating the young to respect their elders and betters’
    • ‘Earlier middle classes had merely aped their social betters.’
    • ‘The hope is that this drama will prompt viewers to think twice about the way we view our elders and betters.’
    • ‘This, like calculus or reading Milton, is something the undergraduates have studied and learned to do from their elders and betters.’
    • ‘Many young, bright and keen barristers would deeply resent the suggestion that they were incapable of doing the work for which their elders and betters are being so handsomely paid.’
    • ‘Even the Parrot aimed to inculcate the habits of godliness and good behaviour, consideration for others, respect for ones elders and betters.’
    • ‘The image of the First Minister sitting quietly in his place, listening to his elders and betters, describes the new relationship rather well.’
    • ‘What's worse is when these people are supposedly your elders and betters and making such a public show of it.’
    • ‘Have more respect for your elders and betters, young one.’
    • ‘Maybe my moral outlook is the result of general respect for elders and betters.’
    • ‘Learn respect for your elders and betters, child, or I will make sure you burn.’
    • ‘It is important to keep a sense of proportion about these things and, it seems to me, there are times when our elders and betters lose the run of themselves.’
    • ‘To make Australian companies competitive, workers have to give up 100 years worth of gains and not question what we are told to do by our elders and betters.’
    • ‘They are respected members of the community and for his family to see him ignoring and jeering his elders and betters is very disappointing.’
    • ‘In return they are charged by their social betters with stifling all forms of working class discontent that might endanger the interests of capital.’
    • ‘They are starting to signal that to their elders and betters in the union movement, who have been brave enough to put a specific proposal to her in their post-election briefing.’
    • ‘The problem with the young scallywags of today is that they don't have any respect for their elders and betters.’
    • ‘For a brief moment this week, the European Parliament will have the option of accepting or rejecting the Commission that the elders and betters of the Union have offered for their approval.’
    • ‘He is a developing actor who should stick to playing the Artful Dodger for now, and leave Fagin to his elders and betters.’
    • ‘Generally our messy shoulder length hair and denims invoked hostility and disdain from our elders and betters.’
    • ‘If I do not believe my Elders and betters, those who are purported to be most wise, then who is there left to believe?’


  • 1 Improve on or surpass (an existing or previous level or achievement)

    ‘his account can hardly be bettered’
    ‘bettering his previous time by ten minutes’
    • ‘His achievement has never been bettered and the present holder has only three victories under his belt.’
    • ‘Yet amazingly, scores were generally good and he enjoyed the day of his life, shooting a fabulous 84 gross, bettering his previous best personal performance by four shots to take division 2 honours.’
    • ‘Its timing could hardly have been bettered and should do a great deal to calm the fevered brows of the Lanarkshire club's supporters.’
    • ‘His 60 was also a Royal Melbourne course record, bettering the previous mark by two strokes.’
    • ‘Whether it was the stinging backhand pass down the line, the finessed drop shot, or the intelligently placed first serves that arched in towards her opponent's midriff, her tactics and execution could hardly have been bettered.’
    • ‘All but one point from their entire tally came from play, a remarkable statistic and one that will hardly be bettered for some time.’
    • ‘It was a classic York v Scarborough encounter and as an exhibition of top-class league cricket it could hardly be bettered.’
    • ‘But for a one-volume guide to a man who did more in a single lifetime than most could manage in 10, this authoritative and readable book could hardly be bettered.’
    • ‘In reaching his mammoth score which bettered his previous personal best of 175 not out when playing for Tickhill, he faced 140 balls and hit 12 fours and 13 sixes.’
    • ‘As an introduction to the exciting variety of African writing that is being produced now, this collection could hardly be bettered.’
    • ‘His perimeter game has come under attack, but it's improving and he has worked tirelessly on bettering it.’
    • ‘The world number one bettered her previous world mark of 120 kg set at last year's world championships.’
    • ‘But as he reflected on his world title tussle the York ace remained upbeat about his silver-medal winning display, which bettered his bronze achievement of two years earlier.’
    • ‘The 22-year-old then bettered her three previous performances at the French Open by beating the 10th seed en-route to the third round.’
    • ‘He bettered all of his times from his previous meet and was fourth in the 11-12 boys high-point competition.’
    • ‘India retained the crown at the ninth SAF Games, finishing on the top of the medals tally but the gulf with neighbouring countries narrowed as they bettered their previous performances.’
    • ‘Brady bettered his '01 numbers nearly across the board in '02, but that didn't translate into wins.’
    • ‘The apparent ease at which he was scoring suggested he would have gone beyond the 300 barrier, but he was content with bettering his previous test-best score by exactly 100.’
    • ‘The spectacle of two Morris Dancers running smack into each other could hardly be bettered for a belly laugh.’
    • ‘The recommendation - not for the Queen's second son but the village pub at Gate Helmsley near Stamford Bridge - could hardly be bettered.’
    • ‘He was unlucky not to receive an Oscar nomination for his touching and subtle performance, which betters any of his previous work.’
    surpass, improve on, beat, exceed, excel, top, cap, trump, eclipse, outstrip, outdo, outmatch, go one better than
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Make (something) better; improve.
      ‘his ideas for bettering the lot of the millhands’
      • ‘When workers do make meaningful advances against their local employers by modestly improving their wages or bettering their working conditions, the subcontracts are not as lucrative for the local elites.’
      • ‘‘Unfortunately scare mongering and playing to low prejudice have marked a political debate that should instead be about bettering our nation and the condition of our people and their future,’ Ms Coughlan said.’
      • ‘Eckstein worked all offseason to improve his range by bettering his footwork and getting good jumps on the ball.’
      • ‘We also hope to instill the idea that the best approach for bettering our news media are partnerships among practitioners, news scholars and the news media centers across the country.’
      • ‘The labor activist said that SBSI will always support laborers' actions aimed at bettering their conditions.’
      • ‘None of the serials has helped in bettering the condition of womenfolk.’
      • ‘In the oppressive confines of the chicken yard, one chicken has a vision for bettering their lot in life.’
      • ‘The second question is whether this aid bettered the human condition?’
      • ‘The philosopher of science noted that 20th century democracies, all basically capitalist with varying degrees of planning, had actually fulfilled most the bits of the Communist manifesto that called for bettering the lot of the working class.’
      • ‘This is a great month to focus on bettering your health.’
      • ‘We were moving to Windsor, in the South, because my parents thought of bettering their lot.’
      • ‘Exploiting the public is not leading it; satisfying its passions or sanctioning its ideas is not bettering them; and we understand… the heart of the people and their ideas.’
      • ‘Volunteering not only feels good, but it betters your health as well, researchers say.’
      • ‘The brutal conditions they endured back home were scarcely bettered in a city where the law was administered by the notoriously racist and corrupt LAPD.’
      • ‘Swimming regularly betters the functioning of the heart and lungs.’
      • ‘We are doing injustice to the Madrassa students by not condemning the atrocities against them and not bettering their conditions regarding education and establishment.’
      • ‘Its only claim to have bettered the lot of workers is the introduction of 12 weeks paid parental leave.’
      • ‘The EU is engaged in a quiet dialogue with the Indian Government in bettering the HR condition here.’
      • ‘By knowing and controlling nature, men bettered their physical lot, gaining the leisure needed to cultivate minds and morals.’
      • ‘He came away from London with not only a doctorate but the determination to devote the rest of his life to bettering the lot of children, especially exceptional ones, the gifted as well as the slow learner and the emotionally disturbed.’
      improve, make better, ameliorate, raise, advance, further, lift, upgrade, enhance
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Achieve a higher social position or status.
      ‘the residents are mostly Londoners who have bettered themselves’
      • ‘His absurd salvation comes from accepting that there is no salvation; he betters himself when he takes responsibility for his actions.’
      • ‘He thus adopts what he calls the ‘Lockean proviso’ (modeled after Locke's description of the initial situation of his social contract): that one cannot have bettered himself by worsening others.’
      • ‘Settlers came to Illinois not only to better themselves economically but also to escape the social hierarchical structure of the East.’
      • ‘Yes, we should reward the single mother who betters herself, but we cannot neglect the mugger: as a human being, he deserves compassion - no matter how deplorable his actions.’
      • ‘What have you achieved to better yourself as a professional, rather than just spend more time on the job?’
      • ‘I love learning and bettering myself and I'd really like to do social work training.’
      • ‘Social mobility - people bettering themselves and so moving upwards through the ‘class' structure, surely a hallmark of any healthy and just society - has been halted in its tracks.’
      • ‘He has made the best of his time and strives to better himself and be a positive influence on others.’
      • ‘Try reasoning with him, explaining your targets in life and what you would like to achieve and better yourself.’
      • ‘We believe in the basic good of people and that those free to express themselves in word and worship, to better themselves and look after their families, will bring positive benefits to the communities they live in.’
      • ‘And so, many struggle to get by on a pitiful allowance of 40 leva a month with very little chance of bettering themselves or finding a means for independent living.’
      • ‘After all it is what all local players aspire to in terms of bettering themselves.’
      • ‘A lot of that comes from my own parents, from their own experience here, and their ability to better themselves and achieve the American dream.’
      • ‘I have nothing against people bettering themselves and buying and living somewhere nice, I shall be doing the same when funds allow, but don't move under the flightpath to one of the worlds busiest airports and then gripe about it!’
      • ‘Although this song may represent Hitchcock's most sanctimonious ego, he betters himself later on with a delicate version of ‘Not Dark Yet’ and a cheeky epic narrative on ‘Desolation Row.’’
      • ‘Yes Jamie had a job of being his equerry, but it was more of a social position that would give him connection to better himself in the eyes of British Society.’
      • ‘For me, bodybuilding has always been about achievement and wanting to better myself.’
      • ‘Beijing and the people of Beijing are wonderful people, friendly, helpful, focused on bettering themselves and keen to please.’
      • ‘You're always tackling problems, bettering yourself, breaking down the learning.’
      • ‘Some black immigrants, who originally came to Canada to better themselves and have now achieved middle-class status, prefer assimilation over heritage.’
    3. 1.3Overcome or defeat (someone)
      ‘she had almost bettered him at archery’
      • ‘Defeats of Celtic last season and the bettering of Rangers last weekend mean they are a match for anyone on their day.’
      • ‘In that single moment he had to experience both a hint of sadness and a wealth of euphoria because his protegé has just bettered him.’
      • ‘In those appearances, she was bettered by two other competitors.’
      • ‘A stubborn aversion to defeat was reflected in a qualifying campaign bettered only by France, a consistency they have carried into the tournament proper.’
      • ‘And now I'll never have to be reminded of your bettering me again.’
      • ‘Yet he was also bettered by Parker when I saw them spar.’
      • ‘Only two people have either equaled him or bettered him for a rookie season.’
      • ‘Behind this carefully—constructed shield, he has lashed out savagely at those who have bettered him in the eyes of history and bettered him in the practice of Christian values.’
      • ‘The worst part was that she felt bad for Jake. The scrappy redhead, despite his size, had bettered the Cooper boy in the few moments of the tussle.’
      • ‘It is my job to try and get that right and so far I think a lot of the signings we have fetched in have bettered us.’


In the verb phrase had better do something the word had acts like an auxiliary verb, and in informal spoken contexts it is often dropped, as in you better not come tonight. In writing, the had may be contracted to 'd but should not be dropped altogether


  • the —— the better

    • Used to emphasize the importance or desirability of the thing specified.

      ‘the sooner we're off the better’
      • ‘I told him the sooner he adopted the girls the better, but we wouldn't have to worry about Brad, he had signed the papers yesterday, turning over all parental rights to me.’
      • ‘Hilberg proudly declares himself to be ‘a brute-force man’ undaunted by abundance: ‘the more paper in the files the better.’’
      • ‘The Montreal smoked meat sandwich was not bad - it too came with a slice of cheese and a couple of deep fried pickles, but the less said about the pickles the better.’
      • ‘The more help we get in the coming weeks the better.’
      • ‘Chess is, however, an ideal medium for the internet, where the name of the game is to keep computer users online for as long as possible; so therefore the longer the games the better.’
      • ‘I only ask that you take the time to ask specific questions - the more thought out the questions the better.’
      • ‘If anything, the sketchier the questions the better.’
      • ‘Mr Ancram said: ‘We live in an age of computerisation and the earlier you can learn the skills the better, even for very young children.’’
      • ‘In my view, they should do, as the lower the expectations the better.’
      • ‘Moving to the full-backs, he recommends ‘safe men, tried and true ‘and the more powerful the kicks of the backs the better.’’
      • ‘Automatic promotion is still on the cards and the more help the team has from the terraces the better.’
      • ‘The sooner he sends out the invitations the better.’
      • ‘It was important a couple of our batsmen got decent scores and a couple of the others occupied the crease for some time because the sooner we get used to the conditions the better.’
      • ‘The sooner the military tribunals begin to weed out the terrorists the better.’
      • ‘The sooner the new Bush team communicates this message to the Russians the better.’
      • ‘Scott's 28 now, so the quicker we get the fights the better.’
      • ‘It seemed Mother thought the fancier the clothes the better, and I'd once tried to point out that ‘real ladies’ wore simple silk and lace garments without loads of trimming or sequins.’
      • ‘Basically, the longer you are in the queues the better!’
      • ‘As far as they are concerned the less politicians the better.’
      • ‘Jean Saunders of Swindon Friends of the Earth, who said: ‘The more environmentally conscious features added to the houses the better.’’
  • better the devil you know than the devil you don't know

    • proverb It's wiser to deal with an undesirable but familiar situation than to risk a change that might lead to an even worse situation.

      ‘any other man might be as unpleasant to live with—better the devil you know’
  • better off

    • In a more desirable or advantageous position, especially in financial terms.

      ‘the proposals would make her about £400 a year better off’
      • ‘So the more you can subtract negatives and add positives the better off you are.’
      • ‘I am quite content and just wish that people who are better off than me would realise how lucky they are.’
      • ‘Somebody once said if you learn to love yourself the way you are, you are better off by far.’
      • ‘It is a perplexing attitude - that one might actually be better off with disability.’
      • ‘So, if you were renting a small flat over the long term, usually you'd be miles better off by buying it.’
      • ‘No, religion has no role in 21st century life and we would be better off without it.’
      • ‘Eventually, however, I met a man who said I'd be better off with live bait and a float.’
      • ‘Don't you even think that the people of Iraq are better off having got rid of a dictator?’
      • ‘Over the past five years, however, investors would have been better off in a normal Toisa.’
      • ‘Perhaps his only failing was not to suggest earlier to me that I would be better off elsewhere.’
      • ‘Unless we can know everything, he seemed to argue, we're better off knowing nothing.’
      • ‘Perhaps you believe that the world would be better off if China was master of the world?’
      • ‘In fact, the mother is often waiting nearby and in many cases the animals would be better off left alone.’
      • ‘So you'll be financially better off with a car if you don't actually need the bigger vehicle.’
      • ‘This goes to show that the average family is no better off now than when Labour came to power.’
      • ‘I think people can make their own minds up as to whether we are better off under a Labour Government or not.’
      • ‘There can be no dispute that the world would be better off without terrorism.’
      • ‘Vouchers empower the poor by handing them the same power of the purse string now enjoyed by the better off.’
      • ‘Rachel added that getting a job wasn't always about being financially better off.’
      • ‘I end up no better off, but it might offer a few advantages in the longer term.’
  • the better part of

    • Almost all of; most of.

      ‘it is the better part of a mile’
      • ‘There are a lot of conservatives who have held their tongue for the better part of two years.’
      • ‘We were in fact, the better part of two hours early for our booked Isle of Wight ferry.’
      • ‘I spent the better part of today watching the England cricket team come agonizingly close to an improbable victory.’
      • ‘She hasn't seen him for the better part of three years since he's been confined here.’
      • ‘What happened then was a gun battle that raged for the better part of eight hours.’
      • ‘At least once a week for the better part of three years, the media has zero credibility in my eyes.’
      • ‘I spent the better part of two hours sending my friends out into the cold of a snowstorm digitally.’
      • ‘What he'd done just since seven this morning would have taken her the better part of two days.’
      • ‘The blazing straw-stack has eventually been extinguished after the better part of seven days.’
      • ‘I've been a journalist watching the chiefs in action for the better part of two dozen years.’
      • ‘I haven't spoken to any of my blood relatives in the better part of eighteen months.’
      • ‘She was ill for two years, spending the better part of 18 months in St James's Hospital, Leeds.’
      • ‘Later, he cracked a bone in his right leg that cost him the better part of three games down the stretch.’
      • ‘She spends the better part of most working days staring into space.’
      • ‘The track had been rained on for the better part of 40 days, I heard Noah had entered but sadly this was not the case.’
      • ‘They worked side by side in companionship and silence for the better part of two hours.’
      • ‘This explains, in part, why he toiled in anonymity for the better part of two decades.’
      • ‘After the better part of 20 years attempting to do this, we think the following conclusions can be safely drawn.’
      • ‘As Wesley predicted, Xavier did spend the better part of three hours yelling at me.’
      • ‘He lived with us for the better part of 20 years and I can never remember him being in foul humour.’
  • better safe than sorry

    • proverb It's wiser to be cautious and careful than to be hasty or rash and so do something you may later regret.

      • ‘Well, tonight, MTV says better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘This has almost never happened, but better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘It means the leg will be even stronger come July and the start of pre-season and it is really a case of better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘Indeed, it sounds like common sense: better safe than sorry; look before you leap.’
      • ‘New York decided to go ahead, you know, better safe than sorry, as you said.’
      • ‘But the motto across Europe is now better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘I find that on with a wood countertop and rollingpin I don't need to dust the counter or dough, but better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘It is even opposing inclusion of the ‘precautionary principle’ in assessing developments - better safe than sorry - despite the fact that this was agreed in essence at the earth summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago.’
      • ‘We do not think this is the case but better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘Untreated high blood pressure is dangerous - and since blood pressure rises during exercise, better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘We have no intelligence or information to support the belief that he is anywhere other than India - but better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘A ‘lack of evidence of harm’ of our exposure to particular chemicals does not seem to be sufficient in allaying fears today, when we are constantly encouraged to be better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘Its more like we go to confirm just in case because with these millions of disturbing bugs around and all the symptoms sounding similar you just never know and they always say better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘It is a shame because of the reputation and possibility of violence by a certain group we have had to do this - better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘Blisters will affect your performance, and sweat makes face-paint drip, so it is better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘As he clambered for a retort, he said something he instantly regretted: ‘Well, better safe than sorry.’’
      • ‘‘It is better safe than sorry on something like this,’ he said.’
      • ‘A spokesman for the National Security Council, says the administration is following a philosophy of better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘Well, if there's one thing I think we learned in the wake of Katrina it's better safe than sorry.’
      • ‘As the writer put it in the London Sunday Times: ‘Purporting to be better safe than sorry, authority can no longer get away with sorry.’’
  • better than

    • More than.

      ‘he'd lived there for better than twenty years’
  • be better than nothing

    • Used to indicate that having something inferior to what one wanted or expected is preferable to having nothing at all.

      ‘the suit is about three sizes too big but it's better than nothing’
      • ‘If you can't afford anything, then cheap junk is a lot better than nothing.’
      • ‘To many it may not seem as much, but to a man who has children and a family, even money earned from a part-time job once every two months is better than nothing at all.’
      • ‘It's not an exact science of course, but it's better than nothing.’
      • ‘The fluorescent bulb would obviously be dimmer than a 300 watt spot lamp, but it would be better than nothing.’
      • ‘An email is better than nothing, but the fax is what would get the job done.’
      • ‘She doubted that it would make scintillating television, but it was better than nothing.’
  • the better to ——

    • So as to —— better.

      ‘he leaned closer the better to hear her’
      • ‘It's all fuel for thought, mind's wheels turning, a tap of my industrial frustrations, the better to be able to write in the morning.’
      • ‘The harbour is to be dredged, and a pontoon will be built across the middle, the better to accommodate sailing cruisers.’
      • ‘Some of them had paid for front rooms and seats at windows of houses facing the prison, all the better to witness the last moments of a dying man.’
      • ‘They quieted, however, when the Elder waved a hand to shush them, the better to hear what else the Imkill had to say.’
      • ‘On entering, I switch it off, the better to concentrate on what a shiny, show-off, thieving bunch the old Venetians were.’
      • ‘I'm sure it's time I had a consultation exercise on something or other - all the better to keep the civil servants busy while I watch the telly.’
      • ‘The sound is indeed bright and clear most of the time, all the better to hear the glorious pop songs playing from the wireless.’
      • ‘What's more, Google is aiming to link together patterns in your web searching and your inbox, the better to deliver ads.’
      • ‘Best to show up with a lot of photos of your cats or your grandchildren, the better to facilitate conversations with those around you.’
      • ‘Whatever is out there, Crosby is investing his bonus sightings from last year with trigger cameras and night-vision glasses, all the better to find it.’
      • ‘He gripped my hand and pulled me slightly towards him, the better to hear, and I remember thinking that he smelt very nice.’
      • ‘I went to the French doors in the study the better to enjoy this daily treat, and to relish in the racket of honking and wing-flapping as they passed over.’
      • ‘Cars used by the unit were Opel saloons adapted with four-wheel drive - the better to escape opposition security forces.’
      • ‘So we stepped outside, blinking in the suddenly warm sunlight, and leaned our heads against the door, the better to hear the conversation going on inside.’
      • ‘Nor are the tables arranged in long rows, as they are in Germany, all the better to sway in unison to the tunes of raucous drinking songs.’
      • ‘The girls wanted a wide range of music - all the better to attract a wide range of listeners - but there is a unity to their selections.’
      • ‘A slider on the side of the contact sheet lets you instantly enlarge and examine hundreds of pictures at a glance, the better to find the one you're hunting for.’
      • ‘Cam's own table was at the stairhead, the better to greet and farewell his guests, and to ask a favoured one occasionally to join him for a quick drink.’
      • ‘I lift myself on my elbows the better to hear the rest of their conversation.’
      • ‘Not unmixed praise, to be sure - but it was part of Marx's strategy to praise capitalism more fervently than the most naive liberal, all the better to bury it.’
  • for better or (for) worse

    • Whether the outcome is good or bad.

      ‘ours, for better or for worse, is the century of youth’
      • ‘Why buy traditional when the world - for better or worse - is turning digital?’
      • ‘That, for better or worse, has already been decided by the court.’
      • ‘Consider the various contributors to America, for better or worse.’
      • ‘So, guys and gals enjoy the new dress code for better or worse!’
      • ‘The Church in the US, for better or worse, doesn't look like the Church anywhere else.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, there is little evidence America has changed, for better or worse, as a result of September 11.’
      • ‘It is not the tenacity of the distinction that concerns me, but that, for better or worse, we cannot do without it.’
      • ‘Star Trek, on the other hand, always reflects the zeitgeist, for better or worse.’
      • ‘Whether it was for better or for worse I couldn't change it anymore so I only had the choice to accept it.’
      • ‘The value of information is in its usefulness in manipulating, for better or worse, the natural world.’
      • ‘It created a subculture of ideas and ways of life that is still in modern rock… for better or worse.’
      • ‘Altair sensed no hostility in the man's tone of voice, and decided to give his full name, whether for better or for worse.’
      • ‘And their exhausting battle can shift, for better or worse, as quickly as the winds.’
      • ‘Each Asian country will be affected differently, for better or worse.’
      • ‘These songs, like a lot of music, grow on you for better or worse and it won't be long before you have strong feelings for this band.’
      • ‘I got my entire self-worth from my job, for better or worse.’
      • ‘Its outcome will, for better or for worse, change the quality of life in this country.’
      • ‘I guess I'm really influenced, for better or worse, by other people's music.’
      • ‘Whether or not you buy into those particular labels, for better or worse, we tend to fulfil the self-images we're fed.’
      • ‘Those are the people who will decide the election and the debates will be a big part of making up their minds, for better or worse.’
  • get the better of

    • 1Gain an advantage over or defeat (someone) by superior strength or ability.

      ‘no one has ever got the better of her yet’
      • ‘But again due to silly mistakes and the poorest scrummaging I've ever seen from Wales, France got the better of them.’
      • ‘Although he proves resistant at first, she gets him to agree to marry her if she should ever gun down a killer who gets the better of him.’
      • ‘He usually gets the better of the bigger and stronger animals.’
      • ‘The two determined combatants traded desperately along the ropes, with the strongman getting the better of most exchanges due to his superior power and the fact that he was fighting on the front foot.’
      • ‘Have you ever tried to get the better of a comedian?’
      • ‘But in one world people gain utility by getting the better of someone else, and in the other world, they gain utility by helping other people out.’
      • ‘When it comes to mind games, he can give up any idea of ever getting the better of his opponent.’
      • ‘On Saturday, she also heralded a new era in the women's game when getting the better of her opponent in the second all-Belgium Grand Slam decider of the year.’
      • ‘He was slammed for ignoring the strengths of South African rugby, but those traditional strengths were not enough to get the better of England.’
      • ‘Gave Abby a few grey hairs but no-one gets the better of Trinity behind the wheel.’
      • ‘A winner on this course over hurdles, he gained a recent success over fences at Kelso when getting the better of the other horse by half-a-length.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, they did manage to get the better of their opponents Wilberfoss on Saturday, with an advantage draw - albeit by only ten runs.’
      • ‘Congratulations to the Mayo ladies who got the better of a strong Dublin team on Sunday.’
      • ‘And because Horn owns such a big advantage in experience, we expect him to get the better of this matchup.’
      • ‘The myth concludes with the moral that of all the beings ever created, nobody has ever got or will ever get the better of a baby.’
      defeat, beat, best, conquer, trounce, thrash, rout, vanquish, overcome, overwhelm, overpower, destroy, drub, triumph over, prevail over, gain a victory over, win against, win over, worst, subdue, quash, crush
      lick, slaughter, murder, kill, clobber, hammer, whip, paste, crucify, demolish, wipe the floor with, make mincemeat of, take to the cleaners, walk over, walk all over, run rings around
      stuff, marmalize
      shellac, skunk
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(of a feeling or urge) be too strong to conceal or resist.
        ‘curiosity got the better of her’
        • ‘When they moved off, my curiosity got the better of me and I went over to check out the product he had been holding.’
        • ‘To think, if I would have let my anger over this get the better of me and had ran off, that I could/would have been shot.’
        • ‘However, Joe lets his emotions get the better of him and gets involved in the murder of their prime suspect.’
        • ‘When some young police from Redfern told me about them, curiosity got the better of me and I asked them to show me the street they lived in.’
        • ‘He hesitated a while across the street, then his curiosity got the better of him and he started to cross the street.’
        • ‘So you can just allow your male/animal instincts to get the better of you and kill your girlfriend/wife?’
        • ‘Well curiosity got the better of the Professor over the weekend, so a quick google seemed worth the effort.’
        • ‘The urge to quantify things gets the better of us, and we attach numbers to things that either aren't measured well or can't be measured at all.’
        • ‘Then, curiosity got the better of me and I ventured over again to the Mouse Corner.’
        • ‘Why he left it there in the first place I don't know, but seeing it there made my curiosity get the better of me again.’
        • ‘Curiosity is about all that ever does get the better of her.’
        • ‘I urged her on, my curiosity getting the better of me.’
        • ‘Alternatively buy more shares in the company as soon as practicable before the urge to spend gets the better of you.’
        • ‘Lisa tried not to let her curiosity get the better of her as she saw the intense gazes pass between her partner and his love.’
        • ‘There was some talk about its potential use in horticulture, which got the better of my dad's curiosity.’
        • ‘But his own stubbornness got the better of him and he refused to admit defeat.’
        • ‘Her anger was getting the better of her and she slammed the door.’
        • ‘But sometimes, our emotions do get the better of us: anger and sadness are notorious for their ability to cloud our judgement.’
        • ‘Originally from Liverpool, Barker has been living in Los Angeles for 10 years, ever since his fear of flying got the better of him.’
        • ‘My pent up frustration getting the better of me, I slammed my fist into a nearby locker.’
        defeat, beat, best, conquer, trounce, thrash, rout, vanquish, overcome, overwhelm, overpower, destroy, drub, triumph over, prevail over, gain a victory over, win against, win over, worst, subdue, quash, crush
        lick, slaughter, murder, kill, clobber, hammer, whip, paste, crucify, demolish, wipe the floor with, make mincemeat of, take to the cleaners, walk over, walk all over, run rings around
        stuff, marmalize
        shellac, skunk
        View synonyms
  • go one better

    • 1Narrowly surpass a previous effort or achievement.

      ‘I want to go one better this time and score’
      • ‘Runner-up here last week, and a previous course-and-distance winner, he is capable of going one better, provided things pan out right for him.’
      • ‘Now everyone is really thrilled to have gone one better in achieving All Ireland honours.’
      • ‘Portlaoise will be trying to go one better than last year when they failed narrowly to North Kildare in the final.’
      • ‘In particular, he hoped to go one better than was achieved at the group's Brindley Place development in Birmingham, where members of the public raised £50m to invest in the property.’
      • ‘Determined not to be outdone by the men, she went one better than her second place last year, breaking the course record for the ladies.’
      • ‘But their hosts went one better, prompting him to order a major ‘back to basics' programme for his defence.’
      • ‘This proven mud-lover will have conditions in his favour as he bids to go one better than his recent second-placed effort at Beverley and notch his first win of the campaign.’
      • ‘But the French are here, and won't accept anything less than going one better than their shock effort in 1999, in which they progressed to the final.’
      • ‘We have a young squad which is capable of going one better than the runner's-up place we achieved last season.’
      • ‘He is, though, in excellent heart right now and, following a good second-placed effort at Huntingdon last week, he is fancied to go one better here.’
      1. 1.1Narrowly outdo (another person)
        ‘he went one better than Black by reaching the final’
        • ‘The five-year-old is napped to go one better, following a narrow defeat at the same course last week.’
        • ‘They kicked 12 wides in all but their opponents outdid them in that department went one better with 13.’
        • ‘They went one better than having a failed film star as president, and now have as head of state someone who is a complete and utter failure at everything other than being a complete loser.’
        • ‘His burgeoning career on the tennis courts made another stratospheric leap last week in Cincinnati when the Kid went one better than Steve and beat the undisputed champ.’
        • ‘They went one better in their next game defeating the LFL 4-1.’
  • had better do something

    • Would find it wiser to do something; ought to do something.

      ‘you had better be careful’
      • ‘If the FA thinks that was bad, they had better do something soon.’
      • ‘Mrs Hancock, said: ‘We will put £1m-plus into this on the grounds that if we're going to do it, we had better do it properly.’
      • ‘I am definitely more about making people aware, that you had better do something for yourself instead of sitting around blaming everyone else.’
      • ‘Departments think that they had better do something about an issue, and bring forward legislation at the last minute.’
      • ‘But they had better do something about this quick.’
      • ‘When I tell you to do something you had better do it!’
      • ‘Maybe he had better do something, like set fire to a nearby tree.’
      • ‘And the message is clear - they had better do it soon or they will be some other manager and some other fans problem.’
      • ‘‘Well, I had better do something to occupy my time while the cake is baking,’ she said still laughing.’
      • ‘Emily saw the smirk on his face and decided that she had better do something before poor Vlad was taken advantage of by this harlot.’
      • ‘If they would rather die,… they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.’
      • ‘So if someone wants to go outside the government scheme, they had better do it quickly, or they may not recover anything at all, if others have sued and received insurance money before them.’
      • ‘‘Confronted by the agency with pretty overwhelming evidence, the Pakistanis thought they had better do something,’ said a diplomat in Vienna.’
      • ‘I thought I had better do something about it now before it really gets going, because I would not want something like this on my own doorstep.’
      • ‘I left school and didn't do much at first, but then my dad said that I had better do something with my life. I went to Nelson College and did ‘A’ level in music.’
      • ‘Glancing at his watch, he realized he had better do it tomorrow.’
      • ‘But people were listening to something, they called it music and Mellers felt we had better do something about understanding it.’
      • ‘The Vote is a powerful polemic arguing that the right to vote, like democracy, has been subverted and we had better do something about it.’
      • ‘And I figured if I was ever to retire and enjoy my retirement I had better do it now,’ he said.’
      • ‘We had better do it because if we don't, the Americans are going to shut us down.’
  • have the better of

    • Be more successful in (a contest)

      ‘Attlee had the better of these exchanges’
      • ‘United arguably had the better of what play there was in an anodyne first half-hour.’
      • ‘The second half saw end to end intensive football, with Moone having the better of the early exchanges but unable to make the breakthrough.’
      • ‘Despite having the better of the play throughout the game, East Fife could not find the kind of deft of touch they desperately needed to put the ball in the back of the net.’
      • ‘The home side were having the better of the dour exchanges and very nearly made it count on the stroke of half-time.’
      • ‘The second game was a much closer contest with Grange having the better of the exchanges until midway through the second half when Kilbride rallied with some good scoring to force a draw.’
      • ‘In truth, they stalled as the second half spawned something of a role reversal and Lincoln had the better of what followed.’
      • ‘Fisichella has had the better of all his team-mates, but inexplicably continues to be over-looked by the big teams.’
      • ‘The unbeaten hosts enjoyed a 22-15 victory after having the better of the first half, and then holding off Pock's second-half surge.’
      • ‘After having the better of two hard-fought draws he won game three to take the overnight lead.’
      • ‘It was a reasonably good game with Ridge having the better of the exchanges for most of the game, with Villa been forced to use a mixture of very young and veteran players.’
      • ‘Now with the chance to have some time out of the spotlight, and with most of the internal dissent gone, they seem to be having the better of it.’
      • ‘The 18-year-old defender, sent off when the sides met at Ibrox in November, scored just two minutes into a match that Aberdeen went on to have the better of.’
      • ‘With the advantage of the strong wind in the second half, Storm were having the better of the game and looked set to run away with it after scoring straight after the break.’
      • ‘The game began at a pedestrian pace with Scotland having the better of the opening exchanges, but, by midway through the half, the Japanese turned up the intensity and took control.’
      • ‘There was little to be seen in the line of constructive football, and for the home fans, there was a worrying aspect in that Drogheda appeared to be having the better of it.’
      • ‘Despite the visitors having the better of the possession it was Limerick that should really have taken the lead five minutes before the break.’
      • ‘This was not a great performance by the Villa side, particularly in the first half with possibly Ardattin having the better of the exchanges.’
      • ‘Both sides missed opportunities in the first half with Harps having the better of the exchanges.’
      • ‘Most of the play was cantered in the midfield section, perhaps with the Carlow League side having the better of the possession.’
      • ‘Both teams created good goal scoring chances with the visitors having the better of the exchanges.’
  • no (or little) better than

    • Just (or almost) the same as (something bad); merely.

      ‘viceroys who were often no better than bandits’
      • ‘I can do no better than to link to my story from last year about how I fell in love with him.’
      • ‘Owen, arguably, is no better than when he arrived on the international scene two years ago.’
      • ‘Tennyson asked no better than to live with books in the heart of the country.’
      • ‘The fuel efficiency per passenger mile travelled by train is no better than that of an average diesel car carrying two people.’
      • ‘Presley, with his many appalling movie soundtrack albums, deserved no better than two awards.’
      • ‘The rides are good, but no better than what's on offer at Alton Towers.’
      • ‘They all know that their own regimes are little better than that being disposed of in Iraq.’
      • ‘He came into the bar looking no better than before, dragging his wrapped up sword with him.’
      • ‘I can do no better than to quote from my own press statement at the time that the Government announced its policy.’
      • ‘He found that when a subject took glucose, they performed no better than when were given a placebo.’
      • ‘Fire safety standards in public hospitals are no better than in private companies.’
      • ‘I can do no better than to quote Transpower's response to that member at that time.’
      • ‘Ironically, the reaction of the city-breds was no better than that of the villagers.’
      • ‘Living an short life where the only feeling you know is pain, is no better than not living at all.’
      • ‘The proof of Regina's work to date can be testified no better than by the many referrals she receives.’
      • ‘If you are really far away you could get 9Kbs which is no better than now.’
      • ‘They know no better than to constantly bear whatever pain and suffering comes to them.’
      • ‘My Spanish no better than when I left England, I beckoned towards the hostel address in my guidebook.’
      • ‘Even though she was in a wheel chair she was just as good, no better than all the other children were!’
      • ‘It may come as no surprise that the weather at Poole is no better than at home, in fact it is a little worse than when we left.’
  • no better than one should (or ought to) be

    • Regarded as sexually promiscuous or of doubtful moral character.

      • ‘You are no better than you should be, some people say; which means, you are so bad they would not like to say what you are.’


Old English betera (adjective), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch beter and German besser, also to best.




Main definitions of better in English

: better1better2