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

With a need to add talent and depth to the outside linebackers group, general manager Ryan Pace waited until the penultimate round of the draft’s final day before scooping up an edge rusher. Dan Wiederer,, "Athletic Bears rookie Kylie Fitts must prove his durability," 8 May 2018 Boeing also highlighted that the crew on the jet’s penultimate flight faced similar issues, but managed to successfully complete their flight. Andrew Tangel, WSJ, "Boeing Faces Escalating Feud With Lion Air Over Plane Crash," 19 Dec. 2018 Although the Premier League title has already been wrapped up, and with Chris Hughton's side now safe from relegation, Pep Guardiola will demand that his team don't ease up on the Premier League's penultimate matchday., "PHOTOS: Champions Man City Team Up With CITC to Launch New Home Kit Ahead of Brighton Clash," 9 May 2018 Her penultimate step is a universal skincare need: lip balm. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Watch Alessia Cara's Nighttime Skincare Routine," 4 Dec. 2018 Woods and Snedeker will comprise the penultimate pairing. Dennis Manoloff,, "PGA Tour 2018: Live leaderboard for Valspar Championship final round (Tiger entered T-2)," 11 Mar. 2018 This is their profession, and this is the penultimate [sic] expression of their profession. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "“We’re Nobody’s Third Love, We’re Their First Love”—The Architects of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Are Still Banking on Bombshells," 8 Nov. 2018 The Mariners made a few expected roster moves on Tuesday afternoon before the start of their two-game series with the Padres that will wrap up the penultimate homestand of the season. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Mariners activate Marco Gonzales from the disabled list, recall relievers Matt Festa and Nick Rumbelow," 11 Sep. 2018 Castle Rock's penultimate episode drops tomorrow, with the finale slated for release on Wednesday, September 12. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The slow-burn psychological horror of Castle Rock makes for must-see TV," 4 Sep. 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

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on penultimate

What made you want to look up penultimate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a complex dispute or argument

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