Great vs. Best: What's the Difference?
"Great" refers to something that is above average or exceptional, but not necessarily the finest. "Best" denotes the highest quality or degree among all; it is comparative and superlative. A movie can be great, but only one can be the best.
"Great" is an adjective that signifies something is much better than average in quality, size, or performance. "Best," on the other hand, is the superlative form of "good" and suggests that something is at the pinnacle in terms of quality, performance, or suitability. A great singer impresses the audience, but the best singer wins the competition.
The word "great" can be used more loosely and doesn't have to denote comparison with other entities. "Best" implies a comparison and signifies being at the top when ranked among others. A person can be a great athlete based on talent, but to be the best, one must outperform all competitors.
"Great" can refer to multiple aspects such as size, extent, or emotional intensity, apart from just quality. "Best" is almost always tied to the quality of something and is an absolute term that leaves no room for ambiguity. For example, a great novel can be lengthy and intense, but the best novel is unmatched in quality.
In grammar, "great" is a simple adjective, whereas "best" serves as both an adjective and an adverb. While you can say that someone is doing great, saying someone is doing best would imply that the person is outperforming all others in that particular activity.
In summary, "great" is a versatile word indicating something above average or large in scope but does not imply being the ultimate. "Best" is definitive, making a clear claim of superiority, and involves a comparative element. A great effort is commendable, but the best effort surpasses all others.
Above average, large, or extreme.
Highest in quality, degree, or performance.
Generally not comparative.
Explicitly comparative and superlative.
Usually an adjective.
Serves as both an adjective and an adverb.
Context of Usage
Can be used loosely.
Specific and makes a strong claim.
Applies to multiple dimensions (size, quality).
Typically applies to quality.
Great and Best Definitions
Significantly above average in quality.
She is a great musician.
Highest in quality or excellence.
She is the best musician in town.
Very large in size, extent, or intensity
A great pile of rubble.
A great storm.
Most enjoyable or desirable.
This is the best movie I've ever seen.
Of a larger size than other, similar forms
The great anteater.
Highest in skill or achievement.
He is the best chess player in the world.
Large in quantity or number
A great throng awaited us.
Surpassing all others in excellence, achievement, or quality; most excellent
The best performer.
The best grade of ore.
Extensive in time or distance
A great delay.
A great way off.
Most satisfactory, suitable, or useful; most desirable
The best solution.
The best time for planting.
Remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree, or extent
A great crisis.
He spoke for the best part of an hour.
Of outstanding significance or importance
A great work of art.
Most highly skilled
The best doctor in town.
Chief or principal
The great house on the estate.
In a most excellent way; most creditably or advantageously.
Superior in quality or character; noble
A great man who dedicated himself to helping others.
To the greatest degree or extent; most
"He was certainly the best hated man in the ship" (W. Somerset Maugham).
One of the great nations of the West.
One that surpasses all others.
A great leader.
The best part, moment, or value
The best is still to come. Let's get the best out of life.
Very good; first-rate
We had a great time at the dance.
The optimum condition or quality
Look your best. She was at her best in the freestyle competition.
She is great at algebra.
One's nicest or most formal clothing.
A great lover of music.
The supreme effort one can make
Doing our best.
Being one generation removed from the relative specified. Often used in combination
One's warmest wishes or regards
Give them my best.
To get the better of; beat
"I'm a rough customer, I expect, but I know when I'm bested" (Nathanael West).
Pl. greats or great One that is great
A composer considered among the greats.
Unpacking took the best part of a week.
A division of most pipe organs, usually containing the most powerful ranks of pipes.
Most superior; most favorable.
In my opinion, mushrooms are the best pizza toppings.
A similar division of other organs.
To the most advantage; with the most success, cause, profit, benefit, or propriety.
Got along great with the teacher.
(uncountable) The supreme effort one can make, or has made.
I did my best.
My personal best in that race is eighteen minutes, four seconds.
Used as an intensive with certain adjectives
A great big kiss.
(uncountable) One's best behavior.
I was somewhat distant lately, and my lady promised me head every Tuesday of the week when I'm nice to her, so I better be on my best.
(augmentative) Large, senior high-ranking, intense, extreme, or exceptional
(countable) The person (or persons; or thing or things) that is (are) most excellent.
Even the best of us makes mistakes.
We're the best of friends.
Relatively large in scale, size, extent, number (i.e. having many parts or members) or duration (i.e. relatively long); very big.
A great storm is approaching our shores.
A great assembly
A great wait
To surpass in skill or achievement.
Title referring to an important leader.
Alexander the Great
(transitive) To beat in a contest.
Of larger size or more importance than others of its kind.
The great auk
It's getting late. You best get on home.
(informal) Very good; excellent; wonderful; fantastic.
Dinner was great.
Having good qualities in the highest degree; most good, kind, desirable, suitable, etc.; most excellent; as, the best man; the best road; the best cloth; the best abilities.
When he is best, he is a little worse than a man.
Heaven's last, best gift, my ever new delight.
Intensifying a word or expression, used in mild oaths.
A dirty great smack in the face
Most advanced; most correct or complete; as, the best scholar; the best view of a subject.
(qualifying nouns of family relationship) Involving more generations than the qualified word implies — as many extra generations as repetitions of the word great (from 1510s). [see Derived terms]
Great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather
Most; largest; as, the best part of a week.
Pregnant; large with young; full of.
Great with child
Great with hope
Utmost; highest endeavor or state; most nearly perfect thing, or being, or action; as, to do one's best; to the best of our ability.
In the highest degree; beyond all others.
He prayeth best, who loveth bestAll things both great and small.
Extreme or more than usual.
To the most advantage; with the most success, case, profit, benefit, or propriety.
Had we best retire? I see a storm.
Had I not best go to her?
Of significant importance or consequence; important.
A great decision
Most intimately; most thoroughly or correctly; as, what is expedient is best known to himself.
(applied to actions, thoughts and feelings) Arising from or possessing idealism; admirable; superior; commanding; heroic; illustrious; eminent.
A great deed
A great nature
A great history
To get the better of.
Impressive or striking.
A great show of wealth
The supreme effort one can make;
They did their best
Much in use; favoured.
Poetry was a great convention of the Romantic era.
The person who is most outstanding or excellent; someone who tops all others;
He could beat the best of them
(applied to persons) Endowed with extraordinary powers; of exceptional talents or achievements; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; remarkable; strong; powerful; mighty; noble.
A great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, writer etc.
Canadian physiologist (born in the United States) who assisted F. G. Banting in research leading to the discovery of insulin (1899-1978)
Doing or exemplifying (a characteristic or pursuit) on a large scale; active or enthusiastic.
What a great buffoon!
He's not a great one for reading.
A great walker
Get the better of;
The goal was to best the competition
(often followed by 'at') Skilful or adroit.
A great carpenter
You are great at singing.
(superlative of `good') having the most positive qualities;
The best film of the year
The best solution
The best time for planting
Wore his best suit
Expression of gladness and content about something.
Great! Thanks for the wonderful work.
(comparative and superlative of `well') wiser or more advantageous and hence advisable;
It would be better to speak to him
The White House thought it best not to respond
Sarcastic inversion thereof.
Oh, great! I just dumped all 500 sheets of the manuscript all over and now I have to put them back in order.
In a most excellent way or manner;
He played best after a couple of martinis
A person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim.
Newton and Einstein are two of the greats of the history of science.
It would be sensible;
You'd best stay at home
(music) The main division in a pipe organ, usually the loudest division.
From a position of superiority or authority;
Father knows best
I know better.
(in combinations such as "two-greats", "three-greats" etc.) An instance of the word "great" signifying an additional generation in phrases expressing family relationships.
My three-greats grandmother.
Most suitable or appropriate.
This is the best route to take.
(informal) Very well in a very satisfactory manner.
Those mechanical colored pencils work great because they don't have to be sharpened.
Most advantageous or effective.
The best method for solving the problem is...
Large in space; of much size; big; immense; enormous; expanded; - opposed to small and little; as, a great house, ship, farm, plain, distance, length.
Large in number; numerous; as, a great company, multitude, series, etc.
Long continued; lengthened in duration; prolonged in time; as, a great while; a great interval.
Superior; admirable; commanding; - applied to thoughts, actions, and feelings.
Endowed with extraordinary powers; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; strong; powerful; mighty; noble; as, a great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, etc.
Holding a chief position; elevated: lofty: eminent; distinguished; foremost; principal; as, great men; the great seal; the great marshal, etc.
He doth object I am too great of birth.
Entitled to earnest consideration; weighty; important; as, a great argument, truth, or principle.
Pregnant; big (with young).
The ewes great with young.
More than ordinary in degree; very considerable in degree; as, to use great caution; to be in great pain.
We have allGreat cause to give great thanks.
Older, younger, or more remote, by single generation; - often used before grand to indicate one degree more remote in the direct line of descent; as, great-grandfather (a grandfather's or a grandmother's father), great-grandson, etc.
The whole; the gross; as, a contract to build a ship by the great.
Relatively large in size or number or extent; larger than others of its kind;
A great juicy steak
A great multitude
The great auk
A great old oak
A great ocean liner
A great delay
More than usual;
(used of persons) standing above others in character or attainment or reputation;
Our distinguished professor
An eminent scholar
A great statesman
Of major significance or importance;
A great work of art
Einstein was one of the outstanding figures of the 20th century
Remarkable or out of the ordinary in degree or magnitude or effect;
A great crisis
Had a great stake in the outcome
He did a bully job
A neat sports car
Had a great time at the party
You look simply smashing
Many medieval manuscripts are in majuscule script
Marked by active interest and enthusiasm;
An avid sports fan
A great walker
An eager beaver
In an advanced stage of pregnancy;
Was big with child
Was great with child
Large in size or extent.
He built a great empire.
Intense or extreme in degree.
They felt great sorrow.
Distinguished or notable.
Einstein is a great scientist.
Very satisfactory or pleasing.
We had a great time at the party.
What does "best" mean?
"Best" means the highest in quality, most suitable, or most effective among all.
Can something be both great and best?
Yes, something can be both great (above average) and the best (highest in quality).
Can "great" be used as an adverb?
Not usually, it's predominantly an adjective.
What does "great" mean?
"Great" means above average in quality, large in size, or intense in degree.
Does "great" always imply a comparison?
No, "great" can be used without necessarily comparing to other things.
Can "best" be used as an adverb?
Yes, "best" can serve as both an adjective and an adverb.
Does "best" always imply a comparison?
Yes, "best" inherently implies a comparison with other things.
Can "great" be used to describe size?
Yes, "great" can describe something that is large in size.
Is "best" always about quality?
Mostly yes, "best" typically refers to the highest quality or suitability.
Is "greatest" the superlative of "great"?
Yes, "greatest" is the superlative form of "great."
Is "great" always about quality?
No, "great" can also refer to size, intensity, and other attributes.
Can "best" be used to describe size?
Not usually, "best" is primarily about quality or suitability.
Is "best" the superlative of "good"?
Yes, "best" is the superlative form of "good."
Can multiple things be "great"?
Yes, many things can be described as "great."
Can multiple things be "best"?
In most contexts, only one thing can be described as the "best."
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.