if worst comes to worst


adjective superl. of bad and ill.
bad or ill in the highest, greatest, or most extreme degree: the worst person.
most faulty, unsatisfactory, or objectionable: the worst paper submitted.
most unfavorable or injurious.
in the poorest condition: the worst house on the block.
most unpleasant, unattractive, or disagreeable: the worst personality I've ever known.
most lacking in skill; least skilled: the worst typist in the group.
that which is worst.
in the most evil, wicked, severe, or disadvantageous manner.
with the most severity, intensity, etc.; in the greatest degree.
verb (used with object)
to defeat; beat: He worsted him easily.
at worst, if the worst happens; under the worst conditions: He will be expelled from school, at worst. Also, at the worst.
get the worst of something, to be defeated by; lose: to get the worst of a fight.
if worst comes to worst, if the very worst happens: If worst comes to worst, we still have some money in reserve.
in the worst way, Informal. in an extreme degree; very much: She wanted a new robe for Christmas in the worst way. Also, the worst way.

before 900; Middle English worste (adj., adv., and noun), Old English wur(re)sta, wyr(re)st, wer(re)sta (adj. and adv.); cognate with Old Norse verstr; see worse, -est1

worst, wurst.
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World English Dictionary
worst (wɜːst)
1.  the superlative of bad
2.  in the most extreme or bad manner or degree
3.  least well, suitably, or acceptably
4.  (in combination) in or to the smallest degree or extent; least: worst-loved
5.  the worst the least good or most inferior person, thing, or part in a group, narrative, etc
6.  (often preceded by at) the most poor, unpleasant, or unskilled quality or condition: television is at its worst these days
7.  the greatest amount of damage or wickedness of which a person or group is capable: the invaders came and did their worst
8.  the weakest effort or poorest achievement that a person or group is capable of making: the applicant did his worst at the test because he did not want the job
9.  the worst
 a.  in the least favourable interpretation or view
 b.  under the least favourable conditions
10.  if the worst comes to the worst if all the more desirable alternatives become impossible or if the worst possible thing happens
11.  come off worst, get the worst of it to enjoy the least benefit from an issue or be defeated in it
12.  (tr) to get the advantage over; defeat or beat
[Old English wierrest; related to Old Frisian wersta, Old Saxon, Old High German wirsisto, Old Norse verstr]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. wyrresta, from P.Gmc. *wers-ista- (cf. O.S. wirsista, O.N. verstr, O.Fris. wersta, O.H.G. wirsisto), superlative of PIE *wers- "to confuse, mix up" (see worse). The verb meaning "damage, inflict loss upon" is first recorded c.1600, from the adj. Phrase in the worst way
(1839) is from Amer.Eng. sense of "most severely."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

ill (ĭl)
adj. worse (wûrs), worst (wûrst)

  1. Not healthy; sick.

  2. Not normal, as a condition; unsound.

A disease or illness, especially of animals.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

if worst comes to worst

Also, if worse comes to worst. In the least favorable situation, if the worst possible outcome occurs. For example, If worst comes to worst and the budget is not approved, the government will shut down, or Go ahead and go to school with a cold; if worse comes to worst the teacher will send you home. This expression is nearly always followed by a solution. [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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