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 ending to the sixth and penultimate season serves as a perfect example of this dichotomy. Emily Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Orange Is the New Black," 7 Aug. 2019 Loco Dice Loco Dice is the stuff of Ibizan dance party legends, and the Tunisian DJ turned the penultimate set at the Pink Tent into a techno oasis. Miguel Garcia Jr., Billboard, "The 10 Best Musical Moments of Hard Summer 2019 With Shoreline Mafia, Lauren Lane, Kid Cudi & More," 6 Aug. 2019 Ohlsen managed to maintain his lead deep into Sunday before Fraser wrestled it back in the penultimate event of the week, sealing his title with one final dominant performance. Will Edmonds, CNN, "Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey once again CrossFit's Fittest Athletes on Earth," 5 Aug. 2019 In their penultimate friendly of the pre-season, Real Madrid will face Austrian champions Salzburg at the Red Bull Arena., "Salzburg vs Real Madrid Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 5 Aug. 2019 The celebrations have been rolling out all summer; the penultimate party is Friday evening. Web Behrens,, "15 things to do with the kids Aug. 5-11," 4 Aug. 2019 The penultimate threesome will include Scott Blair (66), Connor O’Brien (66) and Liscio. Andrew Turner, Daily Pilot, "Jim Jones has hot putter in Costa Mesa City Championship," 3 Aug. 2019 For his ninth and supposedly penultimate film, Quentin Tarantino gave up violence. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Quentin Tarantino’s Ultimate Statement on Movie Violence," 2 Aug. 2019 But the book series will last for nine installments, and the penultimate book, Tiamat’s Wrath, hit bookstores earlier this year. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Watch the first intense trailer for the next season of The Expanse," 20 July 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

12 Aug 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

formal : 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 usually brief trip or an expedition

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