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
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

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective 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. Noun 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 Reinhart joins the World Bank at a time when Malpass has expressed concern that 60 million people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BostonGlobe.com, "Innovation Park in Andover to be upgraded," 21 May 2020 Chinese tourists made up almost a third of all arrivals to Japan in 2019, in a year that saw visitor growth impacted by a diplomatic spat with South Korea and a series of extreme weather events. Gearoid Reidy, Bloomberg.com, "China Tour Ban Deals Blow to Japan’s Goal of 40 Million Visitors," 13 May 2020 Similarly, Odisha having faced multiple extreme weather events, also had its act in place. S Gopikrishna Warrier, Quartz India, "Decentralisation and equitable growth: Two lessons for India from the Covid-19 pandemic," 3 May 2020 Before this, the strongest evidence for how evolution can be shaped by the gauntlet of extreme climate events came from watching Darwin’s finches bounce back after droughts. Joshua Sokol, New York Times, "Hurricanes Are Reshaping Evolution Across the Caribbean," 27 Apr. 2020 Before that blow-up, however, came a torrent: greater than average rainfall and some extreme precipitation events. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, "Could Rainfall Have Triggered the 2018 Eruption of Hawaiian Volcano Kilauea?," 22 Apr. 2020 An imperfect solution In the years following Chicago’s 1995 extreme heat event, researchers tried to understand what had caused so many excessive illnesses and deaths. Nicholas Rajkovich, The Conversation, "To protect people in the Great Lakes region from climate extremes, weatherize their homes," 22 Apr. 2020 As predicted, extreme weather events are pushing them even farther. Popular Science, "Michigan’s dam failures are just a small part of America’s aging infrastructure problem," 24 May 2020 During crises, extreme events like self-harm and suicide lag in time. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Is Everyone Depressed?," 22 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some people will barely notice it, and others will be tested in the extreme. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Is Everyone Depressed?," 22 May 2020 Violet and James are in many ways a Regency rendition of Much Ado About Nothing’s Beatrice and Benedick, their banter and outrageous manipulations farcical and funny in the extreme. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: New April romances are escapist and revolutionary," 4 May 2020 Plagues are leveling in the extreme, making a rich joke of nearly every human endeavor. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "The Literature of Plagues Gives Us Words to Live By," 21 Apr. 2020 So in this extreme, there would be the same amount of water in Alan’s whisky as there is whisky in Claire’s water. Laura Feiveson, Popular Mechanics, "Solution to Riddle of the Week: The Whisky and Water Problem," 3 Apr. 2020 Evangelicals are a large and ethnically diverse group, with a few on each extreme of the political spectrum. WSJ, "Trump and the Support of Evangelical Voters," 15 Jan. 2020 See the power of multiple strands on Queen Elizabeth I in her Armada Portrait, a female leader proclaiming victory wearing a dress of gold thread and mollusks in the extreme. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "Aerin Lauder on the Jewels That Made History," 14 Jan. 2020 Much attention has been focused on the more visible extremes of California’s housing crisis: the $100 million mansions not far from where people live on the streets. Robert Gebeloff, New York Times, "As Rents Outrun Pay, California Families Live on a Knife’s Edge," 21 Nov. 2019 Together, the pair form a portrait of codependency in the extreme; their daughters are hardly more than disappointed, disappointing interlopers in this closed union. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "The Unstable, Flickering “The Height of the Storm”," 30 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for extreme

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for extreme

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Extreme.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extreme. Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for extreme


How to pronounce extreme (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for extreme

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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