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

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, the feminine of paenultimus, a Latin root from paene ("almost") and ultimus ("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 Teenage pilot Zara Rutherford landed in Germany on Wednesday on the penultimate stop of her bid to become the youngest woman to fly around the world solo. NBC News, 19 Jan. 2022 With one more regular-season game to go, the Ohio Sportswriter's Association released their penultimate high school football rankings Monday afternoon. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, 18 Oct. 2021 And more key contributors could be in line to miss the penultimate round of regular-season games. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, 27 Dec. 2021 Kendall cheats death at the start of the episode, after the penultimate installment closed with him drunk floating face-down in a pool. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 12 Dec. 2021 In the penultimate version, the city of El Cajon had been included in the central District 4 and the communities of Spring Valley and Paradise Hills had been part of the rural District 2. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Dec. 2021 As if all of the above weren’t challenging enough, Billie Eilish elected to take it on during her penultimate week as a teenager. Jem Aswad, Variety, 12 Dec. 2021 The race result was subject to a protest from Mercedes, which claimed that the race director had not followed his own rule book with the late restart and that the result should have been taken from the penultimate lap when Hamilton was leading. New York Times, 9 Dec. 2021 The penultimate matchup of the Trojans’ season will come against No. 13 BYU (9-2) on Saturday at the Coliseum in a 7:30 p.m. game broadcast by ESPN. Los Angeles Times, 26 Nov. 2021

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

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The first known use of penultimate was in 1677

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Last Updated

22 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Penultimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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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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