First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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Meaning and Origin

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Origin and Meaning of Better

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
adjective Bet"ter
  1. Having good qualities in a greater degree than another; as, a better man; a better physician; a better house; a better air."Could make the worse appear The better reason." [Milton.]
  2. Preferable in regard to rank, value, use, fitness, acceptableness, safety, or in any other respect."To obey is better than sacrifice." [1 Sam. xv. 22.]"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes." [Ps. cxviii. 9.]
  3. Greater in amount; larger; more.
  4. Improved in health; less affected with disease; as, the patient is better .
  5. More advanced; more perfect; as, upon better acquaintance; a better knowledge of the subject.

Etymology: OE. betere bettre, and as adv. bet, AS. betera, adj., and bet, adv.; akin to Icel. betri, adj., betr, adv., Goth. batiza, adj., OHG. bezziro, adj., baz, adv., G. besser, adj. and adv., bass, adv., E. boot, and prob. to Skr. bhadra excellent. See Boot advantage, and cf. Best Batful

noun Bet"ter
  1. Advantage, superiority, or victory; -- usually with of; as, to get the better of an enemy.
  2. One who has a claim to precedence; a superior, as in merit, social standing, etc.; -- usually in the plural."Their betters would hardly be found." [Hooker.]
adverb Bet"ter
  1. In a superior or more excellent manner; with more skill and wisdom, courage, virtue, advantage, or success; as, Henry writes better than John; veterans fight better than recruits."I could have better spared a better man." [Shak.]
  2. More correctly or thoroughly."The better to understand the extent of our knowledge." [Locke.]
  3. In a higher or greater degree; more; as, to love one better than another."Never was monarch better feared, and loved." [Shak.]
  4. More, in reference to value, distance, time, etc.; as, ten miles and better .(Colloq)
verb Bet"ter
  1. To improve or ameliorate; to increase the good qualities of."Love betters what is best." [Wordsworth.]"He thought to better his circumstances." [Thackeray.]
  2. To improve the condition of, morally, physically, financially, socially, or otherwise."The constant effort of every man to better himself." [Macaulay.]
  3. To surpass in excellence; to exceed; to excel."The works of nature do always aim at that which can not be bettered." [Hooker.]
  4. To give advantage to; to support; to advance the interest of.(Obs)"Weapons more violent, when next we meet, May serve to better us and worse our foes." [Milton.]
    synonyms: To improve; meliorate; ameliorate; mend; amend; correct; emend; reform; advance; promote.

Etymology: AS. beterian betrian, fr. betera better. See Better (a.)

verb Bet"ter
To become better; to improve.
noun Bet"ter
One who bets or lays a wager.
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. Something superior in quality or condition or effect ("a change for the better")
  2. The superior one of two alternatives ("chose the better of the two")
  3. A superior person having claim to precedence ("the common man has been kept in his place by his betters")
  4. Someone who bets
  5. Get better
  6. To make better
  7. Surpass in excellence ("She bettered her own record")
  8. (comparative and superlative of `well') wiser or more advantageous and hence advisable ("it would be better to speak to him")
  9. (comparative of `good') superior to another (of the same class or set or kind) in excellence or quality or desirability or suitability; more highly skilled than another ("You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din", "a better coat", "a better type of car", "a suit with a better fit", "a better chance of success", "produced a better mousetrap", and "she's better in math than in history")
  10. (comparative of `good') changed for the better in health or fitness ("her health is better now" and "I feel better")
  11. More than half ("argued for the better part of an hour")
  12. Comparative of `well'; in a better or more excellent manner or more advantageously or attractively or to a greater degree etc. ("She had never sung better", "a deed better left undone", and "better suited to the job")
  13. From a position of superiority or authority ("I know better.")

From Middle English better, bettre, betre, from Old English betera (“better”), from Proto-Germanic *batizô (“better”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhAd- (“good”). Cognate with Sanskrit भद्र (bhadrá, “blessed, fortunate, happy, good”). For Germanic cognates: see Proto-Germanic *batizô. Verb is from Middle English beteren, from Old English beterian (“to make better, improve”). Related to best and battle (“getting better, improving, fruitful, fertile”). Compare also Icelandic batna (“to improve”), Icelandic bót (“improvement”). More at batten, boot.

  1. An entity, usually animate, deemed superior to another; one who has a claim to precedence; a superior.
    He quickly found Ali his in the ring.

From Middle English beteren, from Old English beterian, betrian, from Proto-Germanic *batizōną. Cognate with West Frisian betterje (“to better”), Dutch beteren (“to better”), German bessern (“to better”), Danish bedre (“to better”), Swedish bättra (“to better”).

Alternate pronunciation of bettor or modern formation from the verb to bet.

  1. Alternative spelling of bettor

    better was also found in the following language(s): Central Franconian, Scots, and West Frisian

    Notable Persons Named Better

    Notable Persons With the Last Name Better


    Where is the name Better popular?

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    Popularity of Better as a last name

    The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Better as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in New York, Massachusetts, or Maryland.

    Ethnicity Distribution

    Ethnicity Better U.S.
      White 62.65% 64.26%
      African American 21.38% 11.96%
      Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 0.00% 4.85%
      American Indian and Alaska Native 0.00% 0.69%
      Two or More Ethnicities 1.23% 1.76%
      Hispanic or Latino 14.50% 16.26%

    Of Last Name Better

    People with the last name Better are most frequently White, African American, or Hispanic or Latino

    Entire United States

    Fun Facts about the name Better

    • How Popular is the name Better? As a last name Better was the 51,176th most popular name in 2010.
    • When was the first name Better first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the name Better is Wednesday, January 31st, 1906.
    • How unique is the name Better? From 1880 to 2017 less than 5 people per year have been born with the first name Better. Hoorah! You are a unique individual.
    • Weird things about the name Better: Your name in reverse order is Retteb. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Ettber. How do you pronounce that?
    • How many people have the last name Better? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 407 people with the last name Better.
    • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Better? Chances are, most people haven't met someone with Better as their last name since less than 1 person in 714k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!

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    • Sources:
    • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
    • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
    • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
    • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
    • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.