Definition of worst in US English:



  • 1Most severely or seriously.

    ‘manufacturing and mining are the industries worst affected by falling employment’
    • ‘In Jakarta, the city worst hit by this epidemic, over 6,200 people have been afflicted by the disease and 50 of them have died.’
    • ‘Celebrations are banned in the countries hurt worst.’
    • ‘And worst affected of all were those who had written about trauma.’
    • ‘Thankfully no horses were lost this year and in fact the jocks came off worst.’
    • ‘Cumbria has the unenviable reputation of being the county worst hit by the virus with 877 confirmed outbreaks and more than 1.1 million animals culled in total.’
    • ‘One of the worst hit villages, Naburn, was temporarily cut off by the rising waters.’
    • ‘Already York residents have been asked to show friends around the worst hit areas.’
    • ‘The areas worst hit will be around Parliament Street and Temple Bar.’
    • ‘This comes as torrential rain forced hundreds of people from their homes in north-east Scotland, the area worst hit by this weekend's extreme weather.’
    • ‘The worst hit areas were buses covering New York City, Newark airport, outside New York, and Logan airport in Boston.’
    • ‘Meanwhile health chiefs in the area worst hit by foot and mouth yesterday called a halt on the use of pyres to burn thousands of animal carcasses, amid fears that the smoke might affect the health of people living downwind.’
    1. 1.1 Least well or pleasingly.
      ‘he was voted the worst-dressed celebrity’
      • ‘Being a woman, too, has its disadvantages, given the lack of genuinely good comedic parts being written, or the tabloid culture of exposing celebrities whenever they look their worst.’
      • ‘The adolescent girls appeared to account for both internal reactions as well as external feedback when considering what feels best and worst about being good.’
      • ‘There's nothing redeeming in softball, a pastime that seems to attract the greasiest, worst dressed residents of local areas to neighbourhood parks.’
      • ‘And lo, there was a race within the race for the fastest male runner, fastest female runner, worst dressed runner, funniest runner awards and more.’
      • ‘Watch Joan and Melissa Rivers blow the whistle on the evening's best and, yes, worst dressed.’
      • ‘The results of the vote that the world has been holding its breath for are just in: fashion guru Mr Blackwell's worst dressed women list.’
      • ‘The worst dressed decade of all times has to be the 1980s.’


  • 1The most serious or unpleasant thing that could happen.

    ‘when I saw the ambulance outside her front door, I began to fear the worst’
    • ‘The worst would probably be strategic isolation within the region, and all the additional resources that would, as a consequence, be needed for defense.’
    • ‘Certainly, Landi Khotal station looked as if it had been built to expect the worst.’
    • ‘She was expecting the worst at any moment as she opened the door to the gym area.’
    • ‘The worst may not happen, but we must prepare for it’
    • ‘It was beyond me to work out that the worst that could happen was she would say she wasn't interested.’
    • ‘And we have 100,000 demonstrators out there, so we are hoping for the absolute worst.’
    • ‘The absolute worst, and this is what happened yesterday, is when she fills the empty space with an offer to get together again.’
    • ‘I lay there expecting the worst at any moment.’
    • ‘So I walked around all weekend thinking the absolute worst.’
    • ‘If the worst happens, the mortgage would be covered, but he has no other life insurance.’
    • ‘He invited the reporter into his home and explained the facts, but suspected the worst.’
    • ‘Mrs Mitchell said that they are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.’
    • ‘They have also taken steps to ensure they could still meet school fees if the worst should happen.’
    • ‘I have no idea whether he took illegal substances or not, but let's assume the worst.’
    • ‘She failed to respond to calls and text messages to her mobile phone and police feared the worst.’
    • ‘My mother immediately knew that the worst had happened if her youngest child had not come home.’
    • ‘She was beginning to fear the absolute worst.’
    • ‘While we were expecting the worst, none of us could be prepared for how devastating this is.’
    1. 1.1 The most serious or unpleasant part of something.
      ‘there are signs that the recession is past its worst’
      • ‘The worst of the looting was over, and there was enough calm in the shattered streets for her to feel the popular elation, despite the fear and violence that lay below the surface.’
      • ‘We are all sick with mucky colds again and Amelia is in the middle of the worst of it.’
      • ‘I have simplified our relationship down to the fact that Eliza and I bring out the best and worst in each other, but continue to love each other despite it all.’
      • ‘The smoke was choking but the worst of it was being carried high into the air.’
      • ‘The worst of the snow will be on high ground but there will be some on lower ground.’
      • ‘So in an effort to bring you the best and worst of the past year, here are my top ten sporting highlights as well as my top five lows!’
      • ‘The worst of the country's terrorism seemed to be in the past.’
      • ‘It looked like Robyn may have been over the worst of the disease when tests showed no sign of the cancer.’
      • ‘And the reward is great - by the time we're settled it'll be Spring and we can start off on the new project, whatever it is, filled with enthusiasm, getting the worst of it done before the seasons change again and the days grow shorter once more.’
      • ‘With a bit of prudence we should be able to avoid the worst of times.’
      • ‘But officials are hoping that the worst of this new flooding is over.’
      • ‘The worst of the weather had come on a holiday, with offices and most shops closed, and people already indoors, at family celebrations.’
      • ‘The annual event, held in the shadow of St Magnus Cathedral, escaped the worst of the forecast weather.’
      • ‘The worst of the gales were predicted to hit the South West, in particular Devon and Cornwall, with high winds also affecting parts of Wales, southern England and the Midlands.’
      • ‘Gale Edwards has experienced the best and worst of life in the music theatre business over the past few weeks.’
      • ‘The worst of the problems seem to be a thing of the past.’
      • ‘‘The worst of the problems is the anti-social behaviour,’ she said.’
      • ‘I had asked whether Yorkshire would escape the worst of the foot and mouth outbreak.’
      • ‘The worst of the attack is over but I'm still spending a great deal of time sleeping and, although the fever's gone, the mysterious joint and muscular aches remain.’
      • ‘The worst of the weather is expected to impact the region between Thursday, December 23rd and Sunday December 26th.’


[with object]
  • Get the better of; defeat.

    ‘this was not the time for a deep discussion—she was tired and she would be worsted’
    • ‘The Eluru, Andhra Pradesh born techie also developed the electronics for Pacific Blue, the advanced version of IBM's Deep Blue computer that worsted Garry Kasparov in a chess series.’
    • ‘Cheka and Red Army units sent to suppress the peasant rebels were sometimes worsted, sometimes victorious (sometimes it was pitchforks versus machine guns).’
    • ‘It is in his court that Yajnavalkya worsted all others and had that famous dispute with Gargi.’
    • ‘It is possible that one of the Irish kingdoms might ultimately have established a more permanent hegemony, but for the common pattern whereby a worsted claimant sought outside aid.’
    • ‘They were more apt to chronicle - for moralizing purposes - the failures, when the authorities were worsted by Vikings, flagrant challengers to the Christian order of things.’
    • ‘Cleon is worsted not by an upright and dignified man but by an illiterate and brazen cynic who beats him at his own game.’
    • ‘In retrospect, he joins the long list of those who verbally dueled with George and came out worsted.’
    • ‘In order to stave off the opponent's attack at the last moment and restore one's position one must keep the moral attitude of initiative so as not to get worsted by the adversary.’
    • ‘In the civil war which ensued Boleslaw was worsted and compelled to take refuge in Hungary.’
    • ‘Or, you should be prepared for an all-out war where you are sure to be worsted.’
    • ‘Kathopanishad tells the story of Nachiketas who boldly wrangled with Yama, the god of death, and worsted him.’
    • ‘But they were worsted in an action at Bhangam, about 10 km northeast of Paonta, on 18 September 1688.’
    • ‘Subsequently levered out of defensive positions on the Bidassoa, Nivelle, and Nive, his battered army was worsted again at Orthez in February 1814, and driven from Toulouse on 11 April.’
    • ‘When interrogated before the royal council she turned evidence against her brother, and offered to fight him - by proxy - in judicial combat, adding that she would be gladly burned alive if her champion was worsted.’
    • ‘The rebels had been worsted by Jiang Zhongyuan's Hunan braves at Soyi Ford.’
    defeat, beat, best, get the better of, gain the advantage over, prevail over, triumph over, gain a victory over, trounce, rout, thrash, drub, vanquish, conquer, master, overcome, overwhelm, overpower, overthrow, crush, subdue, subjugate
    View synonyms


  • at its (or someone's) worst

    • In the most serious, undesirable, or unpleasant state.

      ‘nothing's working at the moment, so I suppose you've seen us at our worst’
      • ‘His insights into naked human emotion are simplistic at best, and crude and uncouth at their worst.’
      • ‘Over the past year, as I shared memories of him with my readers, a portrait of the man emerged, good-humored and cantankerous by turns, not perfect by any means, but even at his worst, loveable.’
      • ‘With temperatures falling below zero in many parts and sleet and rain forecast for the next few days, road conditions were reported to be at their worst in a decade, particularly in parts of the midlands and southeast.’
      • ‘It's a very weird thing to look into the eyes of the person you know best, when you are at your worst, and discover they are happy to see it.’
      • ‘Even when I was at my worst, I was getting out of the house four times a week.’
      • ‘King said most Garda work means you get to see a lot of people at their worst, often drunk or involved in family disputes, but he said the majority of people are inherently good.’
      • ‘The problems of dumping at the site in Broad Close car park are at their worst over the weekend, when piles of mixed waste and hundreds of cardboard boxes are thrown onto the ground, blocking access to the recycling banks.’
      • ‘I thought, yeah, this guy knows me at my worst and has demonstrated his capacity for compassion, understanding and communication - certainly a few of my favourite things.’
      • ‘When conditions were at their worst on Saturday, North Yorkshire Police dealt with 601 emergency calls, more than twice their average number.’
      • ‘I've always been a big believer that if people like me at my worst then I can start to trust them, just a little.’
  • at worst (or the worst)

    • 1In the most serious case.

      ‘at worst the injury could mean months in the hospital’
      • ‘Even the government now accepts that this will not happen, but might at worst delay enlargement by some months.’
      • ‘Growth for the first six months of 2001 is at best flat and at worst down a few percentage points.’
      • ‘Many devastated householders are now trying to sort out homes that are at best damp and at worst in need of serious building work.’
      • ‘He said the problem was at best causing an obstruction and at worst could cause a serious accident.’
      • ‘The appeal was not set down until 17th June, so at best the application was just under two months late, and at worst three months late.’
      1. 1.1Under the most unfavorable interpretation.
        ‘the cabinet's reaction to the crisis was at best ineffective and at worst irresponsible’
        • ‘I believe that much of the thinking promoted by the liberal left is lazy at best and downright irresponsible at worst.’
        • ‘Even for a lay person such as I am, this goal seems misguided, at best, and seriously damaging at worst.’
        • ‘You want to see human nature at its absolute worst?’
        • ‘It was unfortunate that the Bulgarian summer this year was temperamental at best, and downright terrible at worst.’
        • ‘I hope that at worst they are being mercenary and irresponsible and thoughtless.’
        • ‘At worst, the cultural differences inherent in such conditions would doom peace talks to failure.’
        • ‘A narrow focus on electioneering is at best ineffective, and at worst disastrous.’
        • ‘Marian Wilkinson's reporting in the SMH is at best ordinary, at worst dreadful.’
        • ‘At their best, these stories offer opportunities for reflection, sort of a first cut of history; at their worst, they fill up time in a slow news day.’
        • ‘To abandon the barely existent rights that animals are afforded is irresponsible at best, and sadistic at worst.’
  • do one's worst

    • (in the view of one's opponent) do as much damage as one can (often used to express defiance in the face of threats)

      ‘let them do their worst—he would never surrender’
      • ‘We are prepared to fight to the death, so do your worst.’
      • ‘The Victoria police force, it seems, practically challenged Kelly and his gang to do their worst.’
      • ‘Letting a huff of air escape her mouth after her outburst, she clenched her fists and looked defiantly at Nook, daring him to do his worst.’
      • ‘I did my mountain climbing and my hill walking when I was a young man, standing proud on the peaks and gazing up to the heavens, challenging them do do their worst.’
      • ‘Heart attacks are more common in the winter months than in the rest of the year, and the immune system tends to slow as the days grow shorter, enabling diseases to do their worst.’
      • ‘Let the critics do their worst, he says - he can take it.’
      • ‘Her huge bow cut through the Atlantic waves, gales swept her decks and storms did their worst but Cunard's great liner Queen Mary steadfastly carried out a total of 1,001 crossings between Southampton and New York.’
      • ‘I am afraid, however, that no amount of law enforcement can prevent such motivated criminals from doing their worst.’
      • ‘Take me to my enemies and let them do their worst!’
      • ‘Arguably, he does his worst when he indulges his own sophomoric sense of humor and goes for the cheap laugh.’
  • get (or have) the worst of it

    • Be in the least advantageous or successful position; suffer the most.

      • ‘But the storm jogged east; they did not get the worst of it.’
      • ‘The airport seems to have got the worst of it but it was wet everywhere.’
      • ‘Oh well, I had been a fighter all my life and they would get the worst of it if they tried anything.’
      • ‘His cloak protected him well enough, but his legs and feet got the worst of it, bleeding profusely over the punctured and brittle skin.’
      • ‘We can't tell you if it's going to be them or the town to the east or the town to the west that'll have the worst of it.’
      • ‘In his surprise at the assault he began by getting the worst of it, but it was not long before both his attackers were on the ground nursing bloodied noses.’
      • ‘It has been a difficult time for all of us, but Charlotte has had the worst of it.’
      • ‘Poor Meg, the youngest of those asked to help, had the worst of it.’
      • ‘Wednesday is the day I have three hours teaching in a row, and my writing and culture students, being last, get the worst of it.’
      • ‘Apparently, Mark got the worst of it with three cracked ribs and a dislocated jaw.’
  • if worst comes to worst

    • If the most serious or difficult circumstances arise.

      • ‘However, if the worst comes to the worst and the club is shut down after January 18, then the money raised will go to a local charity.’
      • ‘John says the course ‘deals with dealing with confrontation, body language and if the worst comes to the worst, self defence.’’
      • ‘We maybe able to use this as a surrender flag, or if the worst comes to the worst, a rescue flag.’
      • ‘It is also a good idea, Direct Line advises, that before it gets really cold, you make sure you know where your water stop valve is - so that if the worst comes to the worst and a pipe does burst, you can turn the water off quickly.’
      • ‘It does help if you can visualise circuits, and if the worst comes to the worst you can always draw it down on a piece of paper, which is what I do.’
      • ‘Later it transpires little has been lost, but in the meantime Smith says not to worry, if the worst comes to the worst she'll do another interview.’
      • ‘It is a heavy burden you lay upon me, but if the worst comes to the worst, I accept.’
      • ‘The map can also display filling stations en route and, if the worst comes to the worst, the location of Volkswagen dealers.’
      • ‘The answer is that the railway companies have done little to protect passengers if the worst comes to the worst.’
      • ‘The car is stiffer than the previous Astra for better crash protection if the worst comes to the worst.’
  • in the worst way

    • informal Very much.

      ‘he wants to win in the worst way’
      • ‘It's the best local television has to offer, and audiences want it in the worst way.’
      • ‘She knew she sounded defensive and was probably annoying, but David's banter had confused her in the worst way.’
      • ‘And, again, this is a time when the state needs the jobs in the worst way.’
      • ‘I think it's fairly obvious - they're meant for each other in the worst way.’
      • ‘I just want to warn you that the film, while seemingly sweet, is incredibly subversive in the worst way.’
      • ‘Thirty years ago, Kesey needed to finish a three book contract with Viking in the worst way, so he did.’
      • ‘The end of summer saps my energy in the worst way.’
      • ‘Once you leave this ten-block stretch, you need a car in the worst way.’
      • ‘I'd wanted to be in that race in the worst way, and I'll never forget going out there for pictures and just how proud we were to be part of that elite eight car field.’
      • ‘Davis, the interim coach since September, wants the job in the worst way.’


Old English wierresta, wyrresta (adjective), wierst, wyrst (adverb), of Germanic origin; related to worse.