I would like to understand the logic (if there is any) behind the phrase "best-of-x" (where x is a number) in the context of competitions, most notably sports. I understand that best-of-five implies that the party that first wins three games wins overall. However, why is the preposition of used? Why not "best in three (games)" or "best over three (games)"?

  • There's nothing wrong with describing a series as best in five or best over five or best out of five; all are perfectly well-understood. At some point, best of five became more popular among sportswriters, but there probably isn't a single why anyone can identify. Why is the color red called red and not ruth? – choster Mar 22 at 19:30

"Of" expresses the relationship between a part and a whole
"In" expresses the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else
"Over - extending directly upward from, at a higher level or layer than

it refers to parts of the whole.
You would say "They have won three of five games". You would not say "They have won three in five games" or "They have won three over five games"

  • Thanks, but what puzzles me is the combination of "of" and "best". I would associate "best of" much more with a competition where the best game/score alone decides. – painfulenglish Mar 22 at 20:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.