ex·​treme | \ ik-ˈstrēm How to pronounce extreme (audio) \

Definition of extreme

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : existing in a very high degree extreme poverty
b : going to great or exaggerated lengths : radical went on an extreme diet
c : exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected extreme weather conditions
2 archaic : last
3 : situated at the farthest possible point from a center the country's extreme north
4a : most advanced or thoroughgoing the extreme political left
b : maximum
5a : of, relating to, or being an outdoor activity or a form of a sport (such as skiing) that involves an unusually high degree of physical risk extreme mountain biking down steep slopes
b : involved in an extreme sport an extreme snowboarder



Definition of extreme (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : something situated at or marking one end or the other of a range extremes of heat and cold
b : the first term or the last term of a mathematical proportion
c : the major term or minor term of a syllogism
2a : a very pronounced or excessive degree
b : highest degree : maximum
3 : an extreme measure or expedient going to extremes
in the extreme
: to the greatest possible extent

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from extreme


extremeness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for extreme

Synonyms: Adjective

farthermost, farthest, furthermost, furthest, outermost, outmost, remotest, ultimate, utmost

Antonyms: Adjective

inmost, innermost, nearest

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for extreme


excessive, immoderate, inordinate, extravagant, exorbitant, extreme mean going beyond a normal limit. excessive implies an amount or degree too great to be reasonable or acceptable. excessive punishment immoderate implies lack of desirable or necessary restraint. immoderate spending inordinate implies an exceeding of the limits dictated by reason or good judgment. inordinate pride extravagant implies an indifference to restraints imposed by truth, prudence, or good taste. extravagant claims for the product exorbitant implies a departure from accepted standards regarding amount or degree. exorbitant prices extreme may imply an approach to the farthest limit possible or conceivable but commonly means only to a notably high degree. extreme shyness

Examples of extreme in a Sentence


The plant is sensitive to extreme heat and cold. They are living in extreme poverty. She went on an extreme diet. Many thought that the punishment was too extreme for the crime. The plan was rejected as too extreme. This is an extreme example of what can happen when a company grows too quickly. He has extreme opinions when it comes to politics. Members of the extreme right opposed the legislation.


After spending lavishly for years, the company has now gone to the opposite extreme and has cut expenses drastically. His mood changed from one extreme to the other.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Fireworks injure 2,000 children each year in this country, and Hartford Fire Chief Reginald Freeman urged extreme caution during Thursday’s activities. Josh Kovner, courant.com, "Summer safety forum at Connecticut Children’s stresses parental supervision, provides sobering stats on fireworks, drownings, lawnmower accidents, falls from windows, hot-car deaths," 3 July 2019 People should use extreme caution when arranging for meetings and should do so only at a public place or in a police parking lot. Rick Hurd, The Mercury News, "Antioch man accused of posing as woman to rob men," 3 July 2019 The teams have faced each other in extreme weather before. Frank Dell’apa, BostonGlobe.com, "What to watch for in the US-England Women’s World Cup showdown," 1 July 2019 The situation is reflective of a global trend in extreme weather. Linda Givetash, NBC News, "Tourists forced to adapt as Europe waits for relief from record-breaking heat," 29 June 2019 Miquel Buch, the regional interior minister, is asking people to exercise extreme caution in forested areas. Washington Post, "Wildfire in Spain rages for 3rd day amid heat wave," 28 June 2019 Anyone on the water is urged to wear protective equipment — including a vest and helmet — and to use extreme caution. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "MillerCoors employee, emergency personnel rescue two tubers toppled in Clear Creek," 28 June 2019 Today’s scientific success–combined with new extreme weather that strikes more frequently–has brought heightened commercial interest. Andrew Blum, Time, "Inside the Weather Wars That May Threaten the Daily Forecast You Depend On," 27 June 2019 There will also be a high risk of rip currents in place through Friday night, so swimmers should use extreme caution: The stormy pattern is expected to calm some by Friday. Leigh Morgan, al.com, "Scattered severe storms possible today (and tonight) for some in Alabama," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Its contemplation of the future is often a commentary on the present: many sci-fi authors take current concerns, from robots to climate chaos to gender politics, to the logical extremes and consider their implications. The Economist, "Why it's worth reading crazy-sounding scenarios about the future," 6 July 2019 To capitalize, beer makers have gone to extremes in past summers. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Having a Fourth of July beer? Make your choice from this list of the best US beers," 3 July 2019 Flake blamed morally deficient leadership, specifically Trump, and the frenzied feedback loop of social media for driving people to political extremes. Jeannette Hinkle, azcentral, "Jeff Flake rebukes Jimmy Carter for calling Trump illegitimate, igniting Twitter uproar," 29 June 2019 This year has shown no signs of improvement as extremes are recorded across the globe. Linda Givetash, NBC News, "Parisians flock to parks as record-breaking heat scorches Europe," 27 June 2019 But that shift in temperature makes extremes more likely. Hannah Fry, The New Yorker, "Why Weather Forecasting Keeps Getting Better," 24 June 2019 Craft beer has often gone to extremes in hoppiness or darkness. Polly Campbell, Cincinnati.com, "Here's what you need to eat (and drink) in Cincinnati this summer," 13 June 2019 Vanska seemed determined to emphasize the extremes with large leaps from fortissimo to pianissimo and back, moments of dancing in sunlight quickly enshrouded in thunderous clouds. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: Emotional extremes fill Minnesota Orchestra’s season-closing Mahler," 13 June 2019 Far better to establish the extreme, then work back to what seems reasonable given the circumstances. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "As the NCAA readies its case, Arizona should brace for the worst (just ask USC)," 13 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extreme.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of extreme


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for extreme


Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin extremus, superlative of exter, exterus being on the outside — more at exterior

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about extreme

Statistics for extreme

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for extreme

The first known use of extreme was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for extreme



English Language Learners Definition of extreme

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: very great in degree
: very serious or severe
: very far from agreeing with the opinions of most people : not moderate



English Language Learners Definition of extreme (Entry 2 of 2)

: either one of two opposite conditions, feelings, positions, etc., that are thought of as being far from what is normal or reasonable
: an amount or degree that is far beyond what is normal or reasonable


ex·​treme | \ ik-ˈstrēm How to pronounce extreme (audio) \

Kids Definition of extreme

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : very great in degree or severity extreme heat extreme poverty
2 : farthest away the extreme edge
3 : more demanding or dangerous than normal extreme sports

Other Words from extreme

extremely adverb



Kids Definition of extreme (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something as far as possible from a center or from its opposite extremes of heat and cold
2 : the greatest possible degree : maximum He pushed the athletes to the extreme.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on extreme

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with extreme

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for extreme

Spanish Central: Translation of extreme

Nglish: Translation of extreme for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extreme for Arabic Speakers

Comments on extreme

What made you want to look up extreme? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!