What does "in the best sense of the word" mean here? What is that "word"?

All the members of the Eagle Group put something of themselves into the new computer.

Individual efforts went well beyond the job, supported by a unique way of life that encouraged each person to commit to doing something of significance. Their deep commitment and unwavering spirit jelled in the ritual of signing up. Both were then intensified and expanded by diversity, exceptional leaders, common language, stories, rituals, ceremonies, play, and humor. In the best sense of the word, the Eagle Group was a team, and the efforts of the individual members were interwoven by symbolic fibers.

Cultural elements were the heart and soul of the group’s success.

From: Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership

By Lee G. Bolman, Terrence E. Deal

1 Answer 1


This is a little hard to answer, because I can't see the downside of team, but this phrase is meant to emphasise that the author is using the word team in a positive light. More commonly, this phrase is used with words that are a little ambiguous, perhaps to avoid looking like a word is being used ironically.

  • I would say it's not that the phrase emphasizes the positive qualities, but that the author considers the given example to be a quintessential one. A similar phrase would be "if you looked up X in a dictionary, you would see a picture of Y".
    – pboss3010
    Apr 26, 2019 at 16:51

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