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get the better of

  1. (transitive, idiomatic) To overwhelm or overcome
    • 1859, George Eliot, chapter 28, in Adam Bede:
      Adam said, "My temper got the better of me, and I said things as wasn't true."
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare & Co.; Sylvia Beach, OCLC 560090630; republished London: Published for the Egoist Press, London by John Rodker, Paris, October 1922, OCLC 2297483:
      Episode 16
      Though this sort of thing went on every other night or very near it still Stephen's feelings got the better of him in a sense though he knew that Corley's brandnew rigmarole on a par with the others was hardly deserving of much credence.
    • 2005, Eric Pfanner, "With Characteristic Fortitude, Britons Carry On," New York Times, 8 Jul. (retrieved 2 Sep. 2008),
      Many people returned to work a bit anxious, they acknowledged, but grimly determined not to let terrorists get the better of them.
  2. (transitive, idiomatic) To trick or con.
  3. (transitive, idiomatic) To gain an advantage over.
    He got the better of him early in the match, but finished by losing.


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