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

The penultimate stop in the process is an indoor dynamometer that calibrates the TLX’s drive system and braking performance. Stephen Williams, New York Times, "This Car Comes in Any Color You Want, So Long as It’s Valencia Red," 5 Sep. 2019 Built between 1227 and 1234 by Al-Mustansir, the penultimate Abbasid caliph in Baghdad, the Mustansiriya was one of the first universities in the world. Peter Schwartzstein, Smithsonian, "What the Restoration of Iraq’s Oldest University Says About the Nation’s Future," 4 Sep. 2019 Auburn then converted two more third-downs, including a third-and-10 pass to Williams on an out for 13 yards on the penultimate play of the drive with 16 seconds to play. Tom Green |, al, "Why Auburn didn’t go for 2 after last-second touchdown against Oregon," 2 Sep. 2019 The penultimate image shows the first vaccination of Edward Jenner in 1796, painted by Melingue Gaston. The Economist, "The original anti-vaxxers," 30 Aug. 2019 Short hops Infielder Tommy La Stella, on the injured list because of a leg fracture sustained July 2, could return to the field as soon as the Angels begin their penultimate homestand of the season Sept. 9. Los Angeles Times, "Angels’ Patrick Sandoval has memorable outing against the Rangers," 29 Aug. 2019 ISM Raceway, home to the penultimate race weekend on the NASCAR schedule since 2005, was named host site for the 2020 NASCAR Championship Weekend, November 6-8. Pier Simeri, azcentral, "Destination Avondale: City hot spots continue to gain traction," 28 Aug. 2019 And his penultimate attempt was a what-was-he-thinking throw into triple coverage that was batted away. Eric Branch,, "Exhale: 49ers’ Garoppolo calms fears with bounce-back performance," 24 Aug. 2019 Angel Has Fallen should easily top the penultimate weekend of summer ahead of holdover Good Boys and new entry, Ready or Not, with about $15 million. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Delivers $1.5M in Previews," 23 Aug. 2019

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

9 Sep 2019

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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

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

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Comments on penultimate

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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