The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Better \Bet"ter\, a.; compar. of Good. [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.]
1. Having good qualities in a greater degree than another;
as, a better man; a better physician; a better house; a
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.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put
confidence in princes. --Ps. cxviii.
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.
All the better. See under All, adv.
Better half, an expression used to designate one's wife.
My dear, my better half (said he),
I find I must now leave thee. --Sir P.
To be better off, to be in a better condition.
Had better. (See under Had).
Note: The phrase had better, followed by an infinitive
without to, is idiomatic. The earliest form of
construction was "were better" with a dative; as, "Him
were better go beside." (--Gower.) i. e., It would be
better for him, etc. At length the nominative (I, he,
they, etc.) supplanted the dative and had took the
place of were. Thus we have the construction now used.
By all that's holy, he had better starve
Than but once think this place becomes thee not.