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at (one's) best
In one's prime, most positive, or most adept condition or state. I am not a morning person, and I won't be at my best until at least noon. He was at his best about five years ago, but his performance has really started to decline lately. She was at her best in the new film.
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 its best
Of or at the highest standard of quality possible. You'll love their new album; it's simply jazz at its best.
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.
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.
at one's best
In one's most excellent state or condition. For example, The photographer tried hard to show the bride at her best. [1500s]
at ˈbest/ˈworsttaking the most/least hopeful or positive view: Smoking is at best unpleasant and expensive, and at worst lethal.
See also: 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.