ul·​ti·​mate | \ ˈəl-tə-mət How to pronounce ultimate (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ultimate (audio) , -ˌmāt How to pronounce ultimate (audio) \
ultimated; ultimating

Definition of ultimate (Entry 3 of 3)

: end

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Other Words from ultimate


ultimateness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ultimate

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective Their ultimate fate has not yet been decided. Our ultimate aim is to increase production.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Moderna, working with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, won’t dive in until 53 cases have occurred; its ultimate goal is to make a judgment at 151 diagnoses. Robert Langreth, Bloomberg.com, "Pfizer Is On Track to Be First to Find Out If Its Covid Vaccine Works," 22 Sep. 2020 Biden embraces the notion that nuclear weapons should play a smaller role in defense strategy and that the ultimate goal should be a nuclear-free world. Robert Burns, Star Tribune, "Biden would push for less US reliance on nukes for defense," 19 Sep. 2020 If the Saints are to reach their ultimate goal, getting No. 9 back on track will be key. Rod Walker, NOLA.com, "4 downs (Saints vs. Raiders)," 19 Sep. 2020 But the ultimate goal is to be able to do all that and more, all at an elite level. Eric Hansen, The Indianapolis Star, "Analysis: Potential long-term gains are worth the September imperfections for Notre Dame," 18 Sep. 2020 Gina Maiola, spokesperson for Gov. Kay Ivey’s office, said the governor’s ultimate goal is to continue to ease restrictions, balancing that with the need to keep people safe. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "When will Alabama’s COVID mask order end? No ‘magic number,’ governor says," 15 Sep. 2020 The researchers’ ultimate goal is to demonstrate if gravity is a quantum phenomenon. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "A Tabletop Device to Measure Gravitational Waves Is Game-Changing Stuff," 8 Sep. 2020 Though Jeong and Lee appear to disagree on Kim Yo Jong's exact role, the two ministers -- and the NIS -- agree that Kim Jong Un remains North Korea's ultimate authority and retains a firm grip on power. Joshua Berlinger And Yoonjung Seo, CNN, "What is Kim Yo Jong's exact role in North Korean politics? Top South Korean officials appear divided," 26 Aug. 2020 At the top of this pyramid are the root servers—each top-level domain, such as .com, has its own family of servers that are the ultimate authority for every domain beneath it. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "A Chrome feature is creating enormous load on global root DNS servers," 25 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There were fight-altering ultimates and others that left a lot to be desired. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "3 talking points from the Dallas Fuel’s weekend loss to the Fusion," 11 May 2020 Both players charged their ultimates at roughly the same rate, but the value heavily favored Super. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "Four Takeaways: Shock topple Fuel, but there’s a silver lining," 10 Feb. 2020 His contrast between the two ultimates of Timon’s emotional pendulum is marvelously rich and instructive. James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Remembering Jonathan McMurtry — Old Globe associate artist, teacher and dean of Shakespeare actors in San Diego," 13 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Only when forced to face her demons after things go awry with love interest Nico (Roberta Colindrez) and handyman Baco (Raúl Castillo) does Emma open the door to ultimate freedom. Ew Staff, EW.com, "What to Watch this Weekend: Meryl isn't backing down on Big Little Lies, plus the BET Awards," 21 June 2019 Weight loss diets are seen as the gateway to ultimate wellness. SELF, "I'm a Personal Trainer and I Never Tell My Clients to Go On a Diet," 24 Sep. 2018 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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Time Traveler for ultimate

Time Traveler

The first known use of ultimate was in 1640

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Statistics for ultimate

Last Updated

25 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ultimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ultimate. Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for ultimate


How to pronounce ultimate (audio)

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 How to pronounce ultimate (audio) \

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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