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1. In the best possible scenario. At best, Doug will be only an hour late. They're only selling junk at the yard sale, so I think they'll make $10 at best.
2. Ideally suited for success. In this usage, a pronoun is used between "at" and "best." I'm not at my best when I'm tired.
at bestand at most
in the most favorable view; in the most positive judgment; as the best one can say. At best we found their visit pleasantly short. The dinner was not at all pleasant. At best the food was not burned. At most there were three people in line ahead of me.
at one's best
1. and at its best to the utmost; to the highest degree possible. This restaurant serves gourmet food at its best. The singer was at her best when she performed ballads.
2. in the best of health; displaying the most civilized behavior. (Often in the negative.) He's at his best after a good nap. I'm not at my best when I'm angry.
in the most satisfactory conditions This truce could last only a short time at best and, at worst, would fall apart in a week.Opposite of: at worst
at your best
showing your most positive characteristics It was kind of a bad day for me and I wasn't at my best.
Under the most favorable circumstances, as in At best we'll be just one week behind schedule, or Cleaning out the attic is a tedious job at best. This idiom, formerly also put as at the best, today is most often used in situations that are actually far from ideal, as in the examples above. [First half of 1300s] For an antonym, see at worst.
1. Interpreted most favorably; at the most: no more than 40 people at best in attendance.
2. Under the most favorable conditions: has a top speed of 20 miles per hour at best.