penultimate

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In Endler's first year in Paris, the club won the French Cup -- only the second major title in its history -- and this season ran Lyon close, taking the title race to the penultimate day of the season. Matias Grez, CNN, "Women's World Cup: Christiane Endler, the Chile keeper who is opening doors for other women," 10 June 2019 Given that the penultimate day of the show calendar coincides with what is poised to be Acte 10 of Saturday demonstrations, Dior Men has opted to avoid any possible confrontation. Amy Verner, Vogue, "First Dior Men, Now Thom Browne—The Gilets Jaunes Are Impacting the Fall ’19 Paris Men’s Shows," 9 Jan. 2019 Here's what happened to Tyrion Lannister, who betrayed Daenerys Targaryen and committed treason in the penultimate episode. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "What Happened to Tyrion Lannister in the 'Game of Thrones' Finale?," 20 May 2019 Last night was episode five of Game of Thrones, the penultimate episode before the series finale next week. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Everything Fans Flipped Out About on Last Night’s Game of Thrones," 13 May 2019 The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones wasn't the only exciting thing that happened over the weekend: Jennifer Lawrence and fiancé Cooke Maroney had an intimate party to celebrate their engagement on Sunday. Glamour, "Jennifer Lawrence Wore the Most Stunning Wedding Dress to Her Bridal Shower—and You Can Actually Shop It," 13 May 2019 This means there could be two years between the penultimate and final seasons of the hit fantasy drama. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "'Game of Thrones' Season 8 teaser gives first tiny glimpse at new episodes," 27 Aug. 2018 The Liverpool ace found himself in unfamiliar territory at Anfield on Sunday, starting out from the substitute bench as Brazil took part in their penultimate World Cup warm-up clash against Croatia on Merseyside. SI.com, "Roberto Firmino Pledges Loyalty to Brazil Coach Tite Despite Substitute Role in 2-0 Croatia Win," 4 June 2018 The penultimate film in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame, premiered this weekend, and fans across the world stumbled out of their respective theaters in a daze over the stunning three-hour conclusion of the Infinity Saga. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "I Really, Really Miss Captain America's Beard," 29 Apr. 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.

See More

First Known Use of penultimate

1677, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for penultimate

see penult

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penultimate

Listen to Our Podcast about penultimate

Statistics for penultimate

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penultimate

The first known use of penultimate was in 1677

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penultimate

penultimate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of penultimate

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!