English

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Pronunciation

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Etymology 1

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From Middle English better, bettre, betre, from Old English betera (better), from Proto-West Germanic *batiʀō, from Proto-Germanic *batizô (better), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰed-rós, from *bʰed- (good).

Cognate with Sanskrit भद्र (bhadrá, blessed, fortunate, happy, good) (from *bʰn̥d-ró-s). For Germanic cognates: see Proto-Germanic *batizô. Related to best and battle (getting better, improving, fruitful, fertile). Compare also Icelandic batna (to improve), bót (improvement), German besser. More at batten, boot.

Persian بهتر (behtar) is a false cognate.

Adjective

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better (positive good, adverb well, comparative (humorous) betterer, superlative (humorous) betterest, or (standard) best)

  1. comparative degree of good
    • 2002 November 1, “Shindig”, in Firefly, episode 4:
      Badger: You think you're better than other people.
      Mal: Just the ones I'm better than.
  2. comparative degree of well
  3. Greater in amount or quantity
    • 1972, Harvey Andrews, Hey Sandy:
      “The air was still with the lonely thrill of 'now the hour is near'
      And the smell of sweat was better yet than the awful stench of fear.”
  4. Greater or lesser (whichever is seen as more advantageous), in reference to value, distance, time, etc.
    The top electric vehicles have a range of 300 kilometres or better. (better = greater)
    Only one swimmer finished the race with a time better than two minutes. (better = lesser)
  5. Healed or recovered from an injury or illness.
    We can't go to the zoo today because you're sick; let's go when you're all better.
Derived terms
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Descendants
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  • Jamaican Creole: beta
Translations
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Adverb

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better

  1. comparative degree of well
    The engine runs better now that I've given it some oil.
Derived terms
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Translations
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Noun

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better (plural betters)

  1. An entity, usually animate, deemed superior to another; one who has a claim to precedence; a superior.
    He quickly found Ali his better in the ring.
Derived terms
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Etymology 2

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Shortening of had better ('d better)

Verb

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better

  1. (modal, auxiliary verb, colloquial) Had better.
    It's getting late. You better get on home.
Usage notes
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  • Better in this sense has often been considered an adverb. But it is virtually synonymous with should in We better be going. and with ought to in We better go. Should and ought are auxiliary verbs.

See also

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Etymology 3

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From Middle English beteren, from Old English beterian, betrian, from Proto-Germanic *batizōną. Cognate with West Frisian betterje (to better), Dutch beteren (to better), German bessern (to better), Danish bedre (to better), Swedish bättra (to better).

Verb

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better (third-person singular simple present betters, present participle bettering, simple past and past participle bettered)

  1. (transitive) To improve.
    This government will better this society
  2. (intransitive) To become better; to improve.
  3. (transitive) To surpass in excellence; to exceed; to excel.
    • 1594–1597, Richard Hooker, edited by J[ohn] S[penser], Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, (please specify the page):
      The works of nature do always aim at that which can not be bettered.
  4. (transitive) To give advantage to; to support; to advance the interest of.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VI”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      Weapons more violent, when next we meet, / May serve to better us and worse our foes.
Conjugation
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Synonyms
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Derived terms
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Translations
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Etymology 4

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Alternative spelling of bettor or modern formation from the verb to bet.

Noun

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better (plural betters)

  1. Alternative spelling of bettor

References

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Central Franconian

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Alternative forms

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Etymology

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From Old High German bittar.

Pronunciation

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Adjective

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better (masculine bettere, feminine better, comparative betterer, superlative et betterste)

  1. (most dialects) bitter
    Proverb: Mösse es e better Krock.To be obliged is a bitter herb.

Middle English

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Etymology 1

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Adjective

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better

  1. Alternative form of bettre

Adverb

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better

  1. Alternative form of bettre

Noun

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better

  1. Alternative form of bettre

Etymology 2

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Verb

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better

  1. Alternative form of beteren

Scots

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Etymology

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From Middle English bettre, from Old English betera.

Pronunciation

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Adjective

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better

  1. comparative degree of guid

Derived terms

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Adverb

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better (comparative mair better, superlative maist better)

  1. better
  2. quite recovered from illness
  3. more than

Noun

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better (uncountable)

  1. that which is better, something better or superior

Verb

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better (third-person singular simple present betters, present participle betterin, simple past bettert, past participle bettert)

  1. to better, improve

West Frisian

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Adjective

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better

  1. inflection of goed:
    1. predicative comparative degree
    2. indefinite neuter singular comparative degree