least1 W1S1 [li:st] determiner, pron
1.) at least
a) not less than a particular number or amount
It will take you at least 20 minutes to get there.
He had at least £100,000 in savings.
at the (very) least
(=not less than and probably much more than)
It would cost $1 million at the very least.
b) even if something better is not true or is not done
At least he didn't lie to me.
I don't expect you to pay me, but you could at least cover my expenses.
The house still needed a lot of work, but at least the kitchen was finished.
c) used when you are correcting or changing something that you have just said
They all knew I was on their side. At least, that's what they said.
I made everything perfectly clear - or at least I thought I did.
2.) at the (very) least
used when mentioning the least extreme thing that happens, is needed etc
Computer viruses are at the very least annoying and often actually destructive.
3.) the least
a) the smallest amount
Women work in those sectors of the job market which pay the least.
Which method causes the least damage to the environment?
b) used to emphasize how small something is, especially when it hardly exists at all
I haven't the least idea what you are talking about.
He used to wake at the least noise.
c) used when you are saying what someone should do in a situation, and suggesting that they should really do more
The least you could do is give me her phone number.
The least they could have given her is some money towards the rent.
4.) not the least/not in the least/not the least bit
none at all, or not at all
I tried to convince them, but they weren't the least interested.
I'm not in the least afraid of you any more.
His voice was alert, not the least bit sleepy.
5.) to say the least
used to show that something is worse or more serious than you are actually saying
His teaching methods were strange, to say the least.
6.) the least of sb's worries/problems/troubles/concerns
something that someone is not worried about because there are other more important problems
What I looked like was the least of my problems.
7.) it's the least I can do
spoken used to say that you are very willing to do something or to reply to someone's thanks
I'll look after them - it's the least I can do.
last but not least atlast2 (3)
least 2
least2 adv
1.) less than anything or anyone else
≠ ↑most
The journey would impose extra expense on those least able to afford it.
It is quite amazing what turns up when you are least expecting it.
He's my least favourite member of staff.
2.) least of all
especially not a particular person or thing
She hardly ever lost her temper - least of all with Anne.
3.) not least
formal used to emphasize that something is important
My mother was upset about his appearance here, not least because she felt it was invading her privacy.

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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  • least — [ list ] function word *** 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… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Least — (l[=e]st), a. [OE. last, lest, AS. l[=ae]sast, l[=ae]sest, superl. of l[=ae]ssa less. See {Less}, a.] [Used as the superlative of little.] Smallest, either in size or degree; shortest; lowest; most unimportant; as, the least insect; the least… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — ► DETERMINER & PRONOUN (usu. the least) ▪ smallest in amount, extent, or significance. ► ADJECTIVE ▪ used in names of very small animals and plants: least shrew. ► ADVERB ▪ to the smallest extent or degree. ● at least Cf. ↑ …   English terms dictionary

  • least — [lēst] adj. [ME lest < OE læsest, læst, superl. of læssa, LESS] 1. alt. superl. of LITTLE 2. smallest or slightest in size, degree, importance, etc. [the least movement] 3. Biol. very small: used in names of species or varieties [least… …   English World dictionary

  • least — 1. Least of all means ‘especially not’ and should only be used in negative contexts: • I am not going to try to play the role of prophet, least of all Jeremiah Listener, 1973. 2. Use less, not least, when contrasting two things: • The latter… …   Modern English usage

  • Least — Least, adv. In the smallest or lowest degree; in a degree below all others; as, to reward those who least deserve it. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — least; least·ways; least·wise; …   English syllables

  • Least — Least, conj. See {Lest}, conj. [Obs.] Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • least — (adj.) O.E. læst, earlier læsest smallest (superlative of lytel small ), from P.Gmc. superlative *laisistaz (see LESS (Cf. less)). Qualifying phrase at least is M.E. æt læstan. As a noun, from early 12c.; as an adverb, c.1200 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Least — may refer to: *Little *Child …   Wikipedia

  • least — index minimal Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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