1 adverb (+ adj/adv)
1 used for forming the superlative of most adjectives and adverbs with more than two syllables, and many that only have two: the most boring book I've ever read | She's one of the most experienced teachers in the district. | The excuse I get told most often is that the train was late. | In high school Kelly had been voted 'girl most likely to succeed'.
2 more than anything else: The food I eat most is pasta. | What annoyed him most was the way she wouldn't even listen to his reasons. | most of all: Unfortunately they'd run out of the paint colour I liked most of all.
3 formal very: I was most surprised to hear of your engagement. | Do you realise we'll most probably end up bankrupt. | a most interesting/expensive etc sth: That really was a most illuminating lecture, Professer Jordan.
4 AmE informal almost: He plays poker most every evening.
USAGE NOTE: MOST GRAMMAR Most meaning `nearly all' is followed directly by a noun when you are speaking generally: Most cheese contains a lot of fat (NOT most of cheese). | Most Americans own cars. You use most of the when you are talking about part of a particular thing, group, etc: Greg has eaten most of the cheese that was in the fridge. | Most of the Americans we asked owned cars. You can also say: Most Americans we asked own cars without using of the to talk about that particular group. The most can be followed directly by a plural or uncountable noun, when it means `more than any other(s)': The most damage was done to the houses nearest the cliff means more damage was done to those houses than any others. You use most meaning `more than anything else' in these ways: My swimming is the thing I most want to improve. | I want to improve my swimming most. | I most want to improve my swimming (NOT The most thing I want to improve is my swimming). Remember that most short adjectives have a form ending in -est that you usually use when you want to say `more than any other', and you should not use most with them: Manhattan is the richest area in New York (NOT the most rich or the most richest). | The dullest people I've ever met (NOT most dull). Note that you use the phrase most of the time, not the most time or most of times. 2 quantifier (superlative of many, much)
1 almost all of a particular group of people or things: most things/food etc: These days most crime is against property, not people. | Like most people, I try to take a vacation every year. | most of: It was afternoon and most of the shops were shut. | Tim spent most of his salary on alcohol and cigarettes. | most: Of all the money donated, most is spent on food and clothing for the refugees.
2 more people or things than anyone else: the most people/food etc: It's the best hotel in town and it also has the most rooms. | This is the most votes any candidate has ever received. | the most: It's unfair that you should have to pay the most when you earn so little. | most: Whoever scores most in the penalty competition will be awarded the trophy.
3 the largest number or amount possible: most people/food etc: How can we plan the campaign to reach most people? | the most people/food etc: To get the most use out of the machine, recharge the batteries overnight. | the most: The most you can hope to achieve is to just get him to listen to your ideas.
4 at (the) most used to say that a number or amount could not be larger: You could buy a good washing machine for about -350, -400 at most. | at (the) very most: At the very most the temperature in summer goes up to about 38ºC.
—compare at (the) very least least 1 (1)
5 for the most part used when a statement or fact is generally true but not completely true: For the most part the relationship between private investment and government interests has not been a successful one.
6 make the most of sth to get the most advantage from a good situation because it will not last a long time: You should be outside making the most of the sunshine.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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