What is the origin of the term, "to get the better/best" of? While I've looked at some sources, they say the meaning without giving the etymology of the phrase. Since the meaning has to do with controlling someone, maybe it's considered getting "the best" of someone in the sense of "making the most" out of them. Of course, I'm not sure how "the better of" would fit in that sense.

What is the origin of this expression?

  • 3
    From the Etymonline entry for better (n.1): To get the better of someone "obtain mastery or victory over" is from 1650s, from better in a sense of "superiority, mastery," which is recorded from mid-15c.
    – Justin
    Jun 21, 2022 at 4:11
  • 1
    From the Etymonline entry for best (v): "to get the better of, outdo, surpass," 1863, from best (adj.). Related: Bested; besting.
    – Justin
    Jun 21, 2022 at 4:12


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