American English

Definition of better adverb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(comparative of well)
  2. 2in a more excellent or pleasant way; not as badly She sings much better than I do. Sound travels better in water than in air. People are better educated now.
  3. 3more; to a greater degree You'll like her when you know her better. A cup of tea? There's nothing I'd like better! Healthy people are better able to cope with stress.
  4. 4used to suggest that something would be a suitable or appropriate thing to do The money could be better spent on more urgent cases. Some things are better left unsaid. You'd do better to tell her everything before she finds out from someone else.
  5. Idioms
    be better off
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    to have more money Families will be better off under the new law. Her promotion means she's $100 a week better off. opposite be worse off (than somebody/something)
    be better off (doing something)
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    used to say that someone is/would be happier or more satisfied if they were in a particular position or did a particular thing She's better off without him. The weather was so bad we'd have been better off staying at home.
    had better/best (do something)
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    used to tell someone what you think they should do You'd better go to the doctor about your cough. We'd better leave now or we'll miss the bus. You'd better not do that again. “I'll give you back the money tomorrow.” “You'd better!” (= as a threat) Grammarshould / ought to / had betterShould and ought to are both used to say that something is the best thing or the right thing to do, but should is much more common:You should take the baby to the doctor’s. I ought to give up smoking.In questions, should is usually used instead of ought to:Should we call the doctor?Had better can also be used to say what is the best thing to do in a situation that is happening now:We’d better hurry or we’ll miss the train.You form the past by using should have or ought to have:She should have asked for some help. You ought to have been more careful.The forms should not or shouldn’t (and ought not to or oughtn’t to, which are rare) are used to say that something is a bad idea or the wrong thing to do:You shouldn’t drive so fast.The forms should not have or shouldn’t have and, much less frequently, ought not to have or oughtn’t to have are used to talk about the past:I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have lost my temper.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: better