pen·​ul·​ti·​mate | \ pi-ˈnəl-tə-mət How to pronounce penultimate (audio) \

Definition of penultimate

1 : next to the last the penultimate chapter of a book
2 : of or relating to the next to the last syllable of a word a penultimate accent

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Other Words from penultimate

penultimately adverb

Did You Know?

Penultimate isn't the last word in words for things that are next to last. There is a pair of noun synonyms that are used commonly enough to have gained entry into abridged dictionaries: penult and penultima. Although all three can refer to something that's next to last, penult and penultima are usually a bit more specific; they are used most often to identify the next to last syllable of a word. All three derive from paenultima, a Latin root from paene ("almost") and ultima ("last"). You may occasionally hear the word penultimate used as an intensified version of ultimate, as in "a race they've called 'the penultimate challenge.'" This use isn't typically found in edited prose, however-or in dictionaries. One of our editors discusses it in this video.

Examples of penultimate in a Sentence

Belle was the penultimate person to die, just hours before a slave, fifty-three-year-old Alba, wandered in delirium away from his cabin and sat down to death in front of Carlyle's airing-out cottage. — Edward P. Jones, The Known World, 2003 He threw harder in the last inning than he did in the first, whiffing pinch hitter Darryl Strawberry with a 97-mph heater for the penultimate out and blowing away the final hitter, Knoblauch, with a 96-mph fastball. — Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 27 Mar. 2000 … regulations have cleared the penultimate hurdle and appear ready to become law … — John Aloysius Farrell, Sunday Denver (CO) Post, 2 Sept. 1984 Pompey … speaks of her mother's difficult death and of her own longings for death and rises to a rare moment of lyric power in the novel's penultimate paragraph. — Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review, 3 Oct. 1982 the penultimate syllable of the word
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Recent Examples on the Web Season 5, the show’s penultimate installment, will hit Netflix in 2022 (likely around November or December, per usual). Lydia Wang,, "Prepare To Wait A While For The Crown Season 5," 23 Nov. 2020 The penultimate episode delves into matters of faith, as Wolsey and Catherine brokered a temporary peace to go after heretics in the land. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "The Spanish Princess recap: The tragedy of Edward Stafford, heresy, and other historical observations," 23 Nov. 2020 The emotional final episode began with the brothers enjoying the spoils of saving the world one last time in the penultimate episode. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, "'Supernatural' comes to an emotional end on the CW," 20 Nov. 2020 Penn State was ranked No. 8 in the penultimate game of the regular season. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "AP Top 25 poll: Ohio State football puts top 10 Big Ten winning streak on the line against Indiana," 15 Nov. 2020 With Alabama and Auburn off, get out to Legion Field for UAB’s penultimate home game on Graymont. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Picking games a masquerade during pandemic," 12 Nov. 2020 With last week’s victory over Franklinton, the Titans now have won 11 consecutive league games dating back to penultimate week of the 2016 season. Jim Derry,, "Derry's Dimes: The oddities of 2020 aren't even close to done," 11 Nov. 2020 For the second time in three seasons Dominic Kinnear finished the year as the team’s interim coach, going 1-1-1 and keeping the team in the playoff race until a stoppage-time goal in the penultimate game. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Soccer newsletter: LAFC and Galaxy are on different paths," 10 Nov. 2020 And one year ago, when Phoenix hosted the penultimate playoff race, Hamlin led 143 of 312 laps before holding off his teammate Kyle Busch by 0.377 seconds. Ellen J. Horrow, USA TODAY, "NASCAR championship race 2020: Schedule, lineup, TV and more for Season Finale 500 at Phoenix," 8 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penultimate.' 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 penultimate

1677, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for penultimate

see penult

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Time Traveler for penultimate

Time Traveler

The first known use of penultimate was in 1677

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Statistics for penultimate

Last Updated

29 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Penultimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for penultimate


How to pronounce penultimate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of penultimate

formal : occurring immediately before the last one : next to the last

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