I will try my level best.

I have heard this expressions from many Indian speakers of English.

Is it not enough if we say:

I wil try my best

Is try one's level best a set phrase? what is the use of level in the sentence? Is it Indianism or standard English usage?

1 Answer 1


From the full (subscription-only) Oxford English Dictiomnary...

one's level best
one's very best; the utmost one can possibly do. Also levelest in the same sense, and similarly level worst, etc. colloquial or slang (originally U.S.).
Of these only level best is standard in the U.K.

First citation 1851 (An Arkansaw Doctor): We put our horses out at their level best.

It's not immediately obvious to me as a native speaker how this sense arose from the original flat horizontal surface / vertical displacement. Perhaps it's an allusion to being at the top level (which must be at some given "height", so if it's also "flat", there's no way to go any further up).

OR - given that the first citation is from a horse-racing context, perhaps the allusion is to flat-racing (a type of racing where the horses do not jump over fences, which implies maximum speed).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .