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least

[leest] /list/
adjective, a superl. of little with less or lesser as compar.
1.
smallest in size, amount, degree, etc.; slightest:
He gave the least amount of money of anyone.
2.
lowest in consideration, position, or importance.
noun
3.
something that is least; the least amount, quantity, degree, etc.
4.
South Midland U.S. the youngest in a family or group.
adverb, superl. of little with less as compar.
5.
to the smallest extent, amount, or degree:
That's the least important question of all. He talks least.
Idioms
6.
at least,
  1. at the lowest estimate or figure:
    The repairs will cost at least $100.
  2. at any rate; in any case:
    You didn't get a good grade, but at least you passed the course.
Also, at the least.
7.
not in the least, not in the smallest degree; not at all:
I am not in the least concerned about the outcome of the World Series.
Origin
950
before 950; Middle English leest(e), Old English lǣst, superlative of lǣssa less
Can be confused
least, lest, let's.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for not the least

least

/liːst/
determiner
1.
  1. the least, the superlative of little you have the least talent of anyone
  2. (as pronoun; functioning as sing): least isn't necessarily worst
2.
at least
  1. if nothing else: you should at least try
  2. at the least
3.
at the least, at least, at the minimum: at the least you should earn a hundred pounds
4.
(usually used with a negative) in the least, in the slightest degree; at all: I don't mind in the least
adverb
5.
the least, superlative of little they travel the least of all
adjective
6.
of very little importance or rank
Word Origin
Old English lǣst, superlative of lǣssaless
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for not the least

least

adj.

Old English læst, earlier læsest "smallest" (superlative of lytel "small"), from Proto-Germanic superlative *laisistaz (see less). Qualifying phrase at least is Middle English æt læstan. As a noun, from early 12c.; as an adverb, c.1200.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with not the least
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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4
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