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

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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

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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

Keeping pluralism at bay today is like keeping apartheid going in South Africa in the late 20th century, where white supremacists were driven to ever-more extreme and desperate expedients. K.n.c., The Economist, "The radical politics of futurists and fascists—and us, here, today," 19 July 2019 In New York, the annual triathlon scheduled for this Sunday has been canceled due to the extreme heat. CBS News, "Why overnight temperatures make U.S. heat wave even more excruciating," 19 July 2019 Football teams typically have been practicing early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the extreme heat. Dominique Yates, The Courier-Journal, "It's hot, but that doesn't mean Louisville high school football teams will cancel practice," 19 July 2019 Sutphin said the effects of using it are erratic behavior and extreme swelling and redness of the hands and feet. Htv National Desk, Houston Chronicle, "Police: People overdosing on meth alternative made from wasp spray," 18 July 2019 New river forecasts for #BatonRouge area are extreme & heart breaking. Gabriela Resto-montero, Vox, "Tropical Storm Barry: What we know," 14 July 2019 The changes can range from hardly noticeable to extreme — enough to make the limb hard to move. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Wendy Williams Calls Out Critics After Revealing She's Been Diagnosed With Lymphedema," 10 July 2019 The cause of the program alarms is best explained (in extreme, penetrating detail) by MIT veteran Don Eyles, who worked on the Apollo Guidance Computer’s software. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "No, a “checklist error” did not almost derail the first moon landing," 5 July 2019 The next insects appear a full 60 million years later — in sudden and extreme abundance. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Origins of Flight, From Birds to Bugs to Planes," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And this is abstraction in the extreme: no story line, no overt commentary on the Believers’ ideals or practices. Janine Parker, BostonGlobe.com, "The simple gift of the Shaker experience, reimagined in dance," 11 July 2019 These actions are primarily driven by two opposing philosophies, neither of which in the extreme serve up a truly healthy future. Paul Roehrig, Quartz, "The internet is broken. But we can’t just repair it—we need to rebuild it," 3 June 2019 This scrambled state is quantum strangeness in the extreme, Sachdev said. Quanta Magazine, "Universal Quantum Phenomenon Found in Strange Metals," 19 Nov. 2018 What kind of impact does extreme, sustained heat have on the human body? Katherine Harmon, Scientific American, "How Does a Heat Wave Affect the Human Body?," 23 July 2010 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

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

22 Jul 2019

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 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.

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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

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).


something desired as essential

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