ul·ti·mate | \ˈəl-tə-mət \

Definition of ultimate 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : last in a progression or series : final their ultimate destination was Paris

b : eventual sense 2 they hoped for ultimate success

c : the best or most extreme of its kind : utmost the ultimate sacrifice

d : most remote in space or time : farthest

2 : arrived at as the last result the ultimate question

3a : original sense 1 the ultimate source

b : basic, fundamental the ultimate nature of things— A. N. Whitehead

c : incapable of further analysis, division, or separation



Definition of ultimate (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : something ultimate especially : fundamental

2 : acme

3 capitalized : ultimate frisbee


ul·ti·mate | \ˈəl-tə-mət, -ˌmāt \
ultimated; ultimating

Definition of ultimate (Entry 3 of 3)

: end

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Other Words from ultimate


ultimateness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ultimate


last, final, terminal, ultimate mean following all others (as in time, order, or importance). last applies to something that comes at the end of a series but does not always imply that the series is completed or stopped. last page of a book last news we had of him final applies to that which definitely closes a series, process, or progress. final day of school terminal may indicate a limit of extension, growth, or development. terminal phase of a disease ultimate implies the last degree or stage of a long process beyond which further progress or change is impossible. the ultimate collapse of the system

Examples of ultimate in a Sentence


Their ultimate fate has not yet been decided. Our ultimate aim is to increase production.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And, as before, the courts will decide the ultimate questions. Sai Prakash And Neal Devins, WSJ, "Strike Down ObamaCare, Says Justice Department," 13 June 2018 The reduction and ultimate elimination of single-use plastic bags is one of the goals of ZWSW. Courant Community, "Community News For The South Windsor Edition," 10 July 2018 But the ultimate success won’t be until there's some concrete action plans. It‘s not about the march. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, "Another Dan Ryan shutdown averted? Officials in Mayor Emanuel's office, others agree to meet with protesters," 13 July 2018 The district court decided that the delay and ultimate denial of treatment did not constitute deliberate indifference by Kallas. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Transgender inmate can sue over denial of hormone treatment, U.S. Appeals Court rules," 11 July 2018 Of course, the ultimate takeaway was a photo or autograph from World Series champ, though the swag bags filled with Fig & Olive's rose vinaigrette and Whataburger vouchers were a nice touch, too. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "George Springer's fourth annual All-Star Bowling Benefit raises record $250K for youth who stutter," 10 July 2018 The maker of Ultimate Driving Machines doesn’t see selling the ultimate riding machine soon. Fortune, "Who’s Winning the Self-Driving Car Race?," 31 May 2018 Although the ultimate aim of PREDICT is to avert future pandemics in the human population, Valitutto and Murray emphasize the importance of supporting the health of wildlife at the interface between animal and human. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "A Never-Before-Seen Virus Has Been Detected in Myanmar’s Bats," 11 July 2018 This entire op-ed was disingenuous, the ultimate subtweet and a way of throwing a rock while hiding your hand. Monique Judge, The Root, "Rich White People Shunning Other Rich White People For Supporting Donald Trump Is Hilarious," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The act went through the heartbreak of completing an album, which they ultimate ditched. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Pnau Talk 'Changa,' Altered States and Share New Track 'La Grenouille': Exclusive Premiere," 9 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ultimate.' 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 ultimate


1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1d


1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ultimate


Medieval Latin ultimatus last, final, from Late Latin, past participle of ultimare to come to an end, be last, from Latin ultimus farthest, last, final, superlative of Latin *ulter situated beyond

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Statistics for ultimate

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for ultimate

The first known use of ultimate was in 1640

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English Language Learners Definition of ultimate

: happening or coming at the end of a process, series of events, etc.

: greatest or most extreme

—used to refer to the original or basic source or cause of something


ul·ti·mate | \ˈəl-tə-mət \

Kids Definition of ultimate

1 : last in a series : final The traveler's ultimate destination was Rome.

2 : most extreme the ultimate sacrifice

3 : relating to or being the chief or most important She has ultimate responsibility for the accident.

Other Words from ultimate

ultimately adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on ultimate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ultimate

Spanish Central: Translation of ultimate

Nglish: Translation of ultimate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ultimate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ultimate

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


not any or not one

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