least - definition and synonyms

adjective, adverb, determiner, pronoun 

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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. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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. 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.

     Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    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.

     Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      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.

       Synonyms and related words
See also