Definition of latter
2 : of, relating to, or being the second of two groups or things or the last of several groups or things referred to of ham and beef the latter meat is cheaper today of ham and beef the latter is cheaper today
Examples of latter in a Sentence
… a fundamental trade-off between capitalist prosperity and economic security. As a nation we have chosen to have less of the former in order to have more of the latter. —David A. Stockman, Newsweek, 28 Apr. 1986
… though her bibliography includes Hecht, Snyder, and Daiches, she omits the latter's first name … —DeLancey Ferguson, Modern Language Notes, February 1957
the latter stages of the process
We'll go in the latter half of the year.
In his latter years he became blind.
Recent Examples of latter from the Web
Examples include the association agreement with Ukraine and two simpler trade deals with Canada and Japan, the latter not yet concluded.
In May, his wife, Sara Netanyahu, was overheard making disparaging remarks about the media to President Trump during the latter's visit to Israel.
In the latter case, he will not be allowed to remain a hero, which is to say, a threat.
But there’s little reason to think any president could have had much success in doing the latter.
Dr. Dena Cabrera, eating disorders specialist and Executive Clinical Director of the Rosewood Center for Eating Disorders, is in the latter camp.
And, oh yes, this evening marked one of the latter, as the British royal family opened up Buckingham Palace for a state banquet, this year in honor of the visiting Spanish head of state.
Thus, the summer has also meant a new start, as Miller begins to install his offense and defense, the latter perhaps more appealing to IU fans frustrated by inconsistency at that end of the floor.
Most of the latter come from poor neighbourhoods, like the Old City, where IS found many recruits.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'latter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Can latter be used of more than two?
There is some controversy afoot regarding the use of latter, particularly regarding its use to refer to items in a series. Many commentators insist that latter can only be used of a series that consists of two:
We have a chicken entree and a vegetarian entree: do you prefer the former or the latter?
When presented with a series of three or more, they say, anyone wishing to highlight the last item in the series should use last and not latter:
We had soup, fish, and dessert, and the last was uninspiring.
But our evidence shows that latter is used to refer to the last in a series regardless of number:
After Ethel's action at Oxford, the ultimate sacrifice that symbolizes her self-discipline, the focus moves away to other members of her family for the latter third of the novel...
— Melissa Schaub, Studies in the Novel, Spring 2007
...I am getting crosser and snappier and sadder every minute straining and struggling to type and to read and to draw (the latter is the easiest).
— James Thurber, letter, 9 June 1939
...bee not over-power'd with policie, nor with enforcement of arguments, nor with the approach of Souldiers, and Troopers; the two first may seeme to perswade you, the latter may terrifie you into an everlasting undoing...
— A.L., To all the honest, wise, and grave-citizens of London, but more especially to all those that challenge an interest in the Common-Hall, 1648
This use is common enough that most modern dictionaries make mention of it in their definitions for latter—and indeed they should, since our evidence for this particular use is several hundred years old. Despite this evidence, however, there are still those who object to its use; if you are concerned about such things, use last to refer to the last item in a series of three or more.
Origin and Etymology of latter
Middle English, from Old English lætra, comparative of læt late
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
LATTER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of latter for English Language Learners
: coming or happening near the end of a process, activity, series, life, etc.
LATTER Defined for Kids
Definition of latter for Students
1 : coming or occurring near the end We are in the latter stages of the work.
2 : relating to or being the last thing or person mentioned Of cake or pie, I'll choose the latter.
Seen and Heard
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