# At Best

•  4
"Yesterday it was eighteen degrees, fourteen degrees at best."

I heard this said on the English television weather forecast yesterday. At first I thought it sounded as an error, but then, upon reflection, I recall that the meteorologist was speaking of how it was to become colder there during the following days.
Had the temperature been rising rather than falling would he have used the same term but with the numbers reversed and said "Yesterday it was fourteen degrees, eighteen degrees at best?"
Thus, if the temperature is moving downwards, "best" is lower and if it is moving upwards "best" is higher? Or have I misunderstood the usage?
"Yesterday it was eighteen degrees, fourteen degrees at best." I heard this said on the English television weather forecast yesterday. ... moving downwards, "best" is lower and if it is moving upwards "best" is higher? Or have I misunderstood the usage?

Philip Eden will be along shortly to dazzle you with science but in the meantime I'd say this was some kind of error, unless you misheard. UK weather presenters are enthused about heat and sunshine so they wouldn't offer 'at best' for falling temperatures.
Maybe it was a European forecast where the temperature was generally 18 but was only 14 at Best, that lovely little town in Brabant?
John Dean
Oxford
"Yesterday it was eighteen degrees, fourteen degrees at best." I heard this said on the English television weather forecast yesterday. ... moving downwards, "best" is lower and if it is moving upwards "best" is higher? Or have I misunderstood the usage?

In the US, "at best" is used to mean "the outer edge of the estimate". Nothing to do with "best" or "worst" or "highest" or "lowest".

I would read that statement as meaning that the speaker thinks the temperature was around 18 degrees, but could have ranged down to 14 degrees. Certainly no lower than 14 degrees.
I don't have a problem with using "at best" to describe a possibility of something lower, but I can't imagine a weatherman making such an imprecise statement.

Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
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"Yesterday it was eighteen degrees, fourteen degrees at best." I ... upwards "best" is higher? Or have I misunderstood the usage?

It's not whether it's rising or falling but whether the speaker wants it to be cold or hot that should determine what is better and best.

In many cases one could say words parallel to, The temp will fall to
18 degrees, 14 at most. Meaning that that's the most it could fall.But it's too confusing and I wouldn't say that.
If one wants to make an ice castle, and he's using Farenheit temperatures, one could fairly say it will be 14 degrees at best.

OTOH, if one prefers higher temperatures, "at best" makes no sense when applied to the lower temperature.
Philip Eden will be along shortly to dazzle you with science but in the meantime I'd say this was some kind of error, unless you misheard. UK weather presenters are enthused about heat and sunshine so they wouldn't

"Enthused"? Does that mean someone tried to enthuse them?
offer 'at best' for falling temperatures. Maybe it was a European forecast where the temperature was generally 18 but was only 14 at Best, that lovely little town in Brabant?

Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis 7 years
Chicago 6 years
Brooklyn, NY 12 years
Baltimore 26 years
Philip Eden will be along shortly to dazzle you with ... presenters are enthused about heat and sunshine so they wouldn't

"Enthused"? Does that mean someone tried to enthuse them?

No, it means they have grown enthusiastic

John Dean
Oxford