ex·​treme | \ik-ˈstrēm \

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

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Other Words from extreme


extremeness noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Borderline personality disorder often causes symptoms like extreme mood shifts and uncertainty in how a person views themselves and others. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "13 Facts Everyone Should Know About Borderline Personality Disorder," 5 Dec. 2018 True love may still exist—the singer was simply blinded by extreme hunger. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "Ariana Grande Temporarily Gave Up on True Love Because She Was Hangry, and Honestly, Same," 2 Dec. 2018 This blending of high school life, casual zombie understanding (with extreme battle sequences), and various song styles happens seamlessly throughout the rest of the film. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Anna and the Apocalypse: A zombie-Christmas-high school musical can’t be this good," 1 Dec. 2018 This is likely to be one of the most remote—and extreme—Airbnbs in the world. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "You'll Need a Reindeer to Get to This Airbnb in Mongolia," 19 Nov. 2018 Those who endure the hazardous storms that blast extreme planets can seek out precious new crystal treasures that only light up during the worst weather. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "No Man’s Sky’s new update makes its sci-fi worlds even more alien," 21 Nov. 2018 According to a study published by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the University of Connecticut in May 2018, young LGBTQ people in particular experience extreme levels of stress and anxiety, and feel unsafe in their daily lives. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Amandla Stenberg Will Receive the Trevor Project's Youth Innovator Award," 20 Nov. 2018 Because there is virtually no data behind the treatment and it hasn't been approved by the FDA, experts (along with Allure editors) are unclear of the long-term effects of the procedure and urge those interested to tread with extreme caution. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "What Is Semi-Permanent BB Cream, and Why Are People Getting It Microneedled Into Their Faces?," 9 Nov. 2018 While the original Cary dress worn by the model features much more extreme thigh-high slits, Meghan’s own piece has clearly been adjusted to knee heigh—probably to adhere to royal protocol and expectations, and to avoid any annoying eyebrow-raises. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "How Meghan Markle Altered Her Veronica Beard Shirt Dress so it Would Adhere to Royal Protocol," 26 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Modern dating usually involves some light internet stalking before meeting IRL (a scroll through instagram, a scan of old Facebook photos) but Joe takes it to the extreme. Elana Rubin, Teen Vogue, "You Is the Psychological Thriller Showing How Dangerous Rom-Com Tropes Can Be," 7 Nov. 2018 The page-out Scandi aesthetic has been taken to its logical, denatured extreme. Constance Grady, Vox, "The time has come to choose the Oddest Book Title of the Year," 3 Nov. 2018 Some take this tinkering to the extreme; people have reportedly even tried to edit their own DNA in an attempt to eliminate a genetic disease. Maridel Reyes, Glamour, "'Biohacking' Your Anxiety Is a Buzzy Practice—but What Does It Actually Mean?," 16 Oct. 2018 Van Cleef & Arpels’s Lady Arpels Planetarium is a moon phase watch taken to the extreme. Cara Barrett, Town & Country, "The Newest Trend in Serious Watch Collecting? Women," 21 Sep. 2018 Mandeville took his argument to a satirist’s extremes, claiming that robbery, alcoholism and prostitution also produced public benefits. Stephen Miller, WSJ, "Economic Liberty Turns Vice Into Virtue," 14 Nov. 2018 Climate extremes, harsh land and unsanitary conditions make the camps a breeding ground for diseases and mental stress. Rishabh R. Jain, The Seattle Times, "Rohingya fearful of doctors keep faith healers in business," 13 Nov. 2018 The mental and emotional difficulty of staying on a diet this extreme can be downright debilitating for most people. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "What You Need to Know About the Carnivore Diet," 7 Sep. 2018 Farmiga throws herself into the role of a person swinging wildly between extremes, barely holding everything together one minute, throwing it all away the next. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "'Boundaries' takes the road all too quirkily traveled," 21 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for extreme

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for extreme

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

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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 \

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.

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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

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