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From Middle English worste, wurste, warste, werste, wirste, from Old English wyrst, wierst, wirst, wirrest (adverb) and Old English wyrsta, wyrresta (adjective), from Proto-Germanic *wirsistaz, superlative form of *ubilaz (bad, evil). Cognate with Old Saxon wirsista, wirrista (worst), Old High German wirst, wirsesto, wirsisto (worst), Danish værst (worst), Swedish värst (worst), Icelandic verstur (worst).




  1. superlative form of bad: most bad
    1. Most inferior; doing the least good.
      I think putting oil on a burn is the worst thing you can do.
    2. Most unfavorable.
      That's the worst news I've had all day.
    3. Most harmful or severe.
      The worst storm we had last winter knocked down our power lines.
    4. Used with the definite article and an implied noun: something that is worst.
      None of these photographs of me are good, but this one is definitely the worst.
  2. superlative form of ill: most ill
    I'm feeling really ill — the worst I've felt all week.

Usage notesEdit

The comparative badder (for worse) and superlative baddest (for worst) derived from the positive bad are nonstandard. Worst may be further inflected to form the two additional superlatives worstest (nonstandard) and worstestest (informal, humorous). The comparative worser is also nonstandard.


  • (most bad): baddest (nonstandard)
  • (most ill): illest (nonstandard)


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



worst (usually uncountable, plural worsts)

  1. something or someone that is the worst




  1. superlative form of bad: most bad
    My sore leg hurts worst when it's cold and rainy.
    This is the worst-written essay I've ever seen.
    She's the worst-informed of the lot.
  2. superlative form of ill: most ill



worst (third-person singular simple present worsts, present participle worsting, simple past and past participle worsted)

  1. (archaic, transitive) To make worse.
  2. (dated, intransitive) To grow worse; to deteriorate.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Jane Austen:
      Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face in the neighbourhood worsting.
  3. (rare) To outdo or defeat, especially in battle.
    • South
      The [] Philistines were worsted by the captivated ark.
    • 1869, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women.
      Jo carried her love of liberty and hate of conventionalities to such an unlimited extent that she naturally found herself worsted in an argument.
    • 1894, Constance Garnett (translator); Leo Tolstoy (author), The Kingdom of God is Within You, Kshetra Books, →ISBN, page 73:
      The higher classes see the unions, the strikes, the May Day Celebrations, and feel the calamity that is threatening them, and their terror passes into an instinct of self-defense and hatred. They know that if for one instant they are worsted in the struggle with their oppressed slaves, they will perish, because the slaves are exasperated and their exasperation is growing more intense with every day of oppression.




Middle DutchEdit


From Old Dutch *wurst, *worst, from Proto-Germanic *wurstiz.


worst f

  1. sausage


This noun needs an inflection-table template.


Further readingEdit

  • worst”, in Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek, 2000
  • worst”, in Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, 1929