Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

WORD ORIGIN

Old English beste, reduced by assimilation of -t- from earlier Old English betst "best, first, in the best manner," originally superlative of bot "remedy, reparation," the root word now only surviving in to boot (see boot (n.2)), though its comparative, better, and superlative, best, have been transferred to good (and in some cases well). From Proto-Germanic root *bat-, with comparative *batizon and superlative *batistaz (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Middle Dutch best, Old High German bezzist, German best, Old Norse beztr, Gothic batists).

Best-seller as short for "best-selling book" is from 1902, apparently originally in the publishing trade; best friend was in Chaucer (late 14c.). Best girl is first attested 1881, American English; best man is 1814, originally Scottish, replacing groomsman. To be able to do something with the best of them is recorded by 1748.

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Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.