The penny has the least value of United States currency.
- An example of least is one penny being the lowest value U.S. coin; the least amount of value.
- An example of least is someone doing the smallest amount of work necessary; the least necessary.
- alt. superl. of little
- smallest or slightest in size, degree, importance, etc.: the least movement
- Biol. very small: used in names of species or varieties: least flycatcher
Origin of leastMiddle English lest from Old English læsest, læst, superlative of læssa, less
- superl. of little
- in the smallest degree
- at the very lowest figure or amount; with no less
- at any rate; in any event; anyhow
not in the least
adjectiveA superlative of little
- Lowest in importance or rank.
- a. Smallest in magnitude or degree.b. Slightest or tiniest: didn't care the least bit.
adverbSuperlative of little
Origin of leastMiddle English from Old English lǣst ; see leis-2 in Indo-European roots.
Some grammarians recommend to use least only with uncountable nouns, as in the examples above with the smallest amount of sense:
- 1965, H. W. Fowler, Fowler's Modern English Usage: Second Edition:
- [W]hen the context"”unemotional statement of everyday facts"”is taken into account, at a less price ought to be at a lower price, and a lesser prize ought to be a smaller prize.
To such grammarians least is the superlative of a little, not that of little, so it does not mean smallest, but the smallest amount of. With plural nouns, they recommend fewest.
- Used for forming superlatives of adjectives, especially those that do not form the superlative by adding -est.
- It was the least surprising thing.
- In the smallest or lowest degree; in a degree below all others.
- to reward those who least deserve it