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 Morant’s penultimate basket brought Memphis only to within 125-115. Jeff Mcdonald,, "San Antonio Spurs fire on all cylinders in rout of Memphis," 24 Dec. 2020 Slate had already recorded Missy’s dialogue for Season 4, but she would be replaced by the Black comedian Ayo Edebiri, beginning with the penultimate episode. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "“Big Mouth” Is Still Changing—For the Better," 21 Dec. 2020 In their penultimate match of a regular season condensed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a depleted Timbers fell 1-0 Colorado Rapids at an empty Providence Park. oregonlive, "‘Sluggish’ Portland Timbers fall to Colorado Rapids, putting top playoffs seed at risk," 5 Nov. 2020 Midway into the final episode, a thrilling action sequence confirms what the penultimate episode revealed: The killer is indeed Buckley (Colin Woodell), the guy Cassie met randomly in a bar, dated casually for a bit and then dumped. Ashley Lee Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "How ‘The Flight Attendant’ blew up the book to get its finale just right," 17 Dec. 2020 That group affirmed its respect for the Buckeyes again Tuesday night in its penultimate rankings reveal for 2020. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State maintains College Football Playoff ranking as Big Ten championship game approaches," 16 Dec. 2020 The Miami Hurricanes fell eight spots to No. 18 in Tuesday night’s release of the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings. David Furones,, "Miami Hurricanes plummet in College Football Playoff rankings after loss to UNC," 15 Dec. 2020 The penultimate college football Saturday of the 2020 regular season was unfolding mostly according to script. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Florida, Miami (Fla.) take tumbles, while Alabama keeps No. 1 spot in Amway Coaches Poll," 13 Dec. 2020 At the top of the penultimate episode of The Queen's Gambit, Beth Harmon's late mother shares a lesson all women figure out eventually. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "The Queen’s Gambit Chess Boys on Their Heartthrob Moment," 10 Dec. 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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penultimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on penultimate

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