pen·​ul·​ti·​mate | \pi-ˈnəl-tə-mət \

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

Rookie right-hander Yefry Ramírez will return to the Orioles rotation, receiving the start in the team’s penultimate game before the All-Star break Saturday against the Texas Rangers. Eduardo A. Encina,, "Orioles notes: Ramírez to start Saturday; Tillman expected to make final rehab start Sunday," 12 July 2018 Sweden and Switzerland face each other in the penultimate game of the 2018 World Cup last 16 on Tuesday in the historic city of Saint Petersburg, with both countries viewing this game as an excellent opportunity to reach the quarter finals., "World Cup Preview: Sweden vs Switzerland - Recent Form, Team News, Predictions & More," 2 July 2018 Two weeks later, Browne teed off in the penultimate group with Michael Campbell at Pinehurst No. 2, three shots out of the lead. Doug Ferguson,, "Ferguson: Michael Putnam latest example of not giving up on US Open," 6 June 2018 Believe it or not, Game of Thrones' penultimate season is almost over. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything to Know About the Game of Thrones Season 7 FInale," 21 Aug. 2017 The penultimate episode of the show’s first season is set to air on Sunday. NBC News, "FX renews Ryan Murphy's 'Pose' for season 2," 13 July 2018 The penultimate episode of the show's first season is set to air on Sunday. Joe Otterson,, "'Pose' renewed for Season 2 at FX," 12 July 2018 Regardless, the Phillies’ 89th and penultimate loss that season was one for the record books. Frank Fitzpatrick,, "When and how the Phillies once played nine innings in 51 minutes," 9 July 2018 The penultimate moments are mentioned, but the larger story is mostly left untold. Anchorage Daily News, "In ‘To the Ends of the Earth,’ an ambitious attempt to encompass era of polar exploration," 7 July 2018

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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Statistics for penultimate

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for penultimate

The first known use of penultimate was in 1677

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More Definitions for penultimate



English Language Learners Definition of penultimate

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on penultimate

Spanish Central: Translation of penultimate

Nglish: Translation of penultimate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penultimate for Arabic Speakers

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