ul·​ti·​ma·​tum ˌəl-tə-ˈmā-təm How to pronounce ultimatum (audio) -ˈmä- How to pronounce ultimatum (audio)
plural ultimatums or ultimata ˌəl-tə-ˈmā-tə How to pronounce ultimatum (audio)
: a final proposition, condition, or demand
especially : one whose rejection will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other direct action

Examples of ultimatum in a Sentence

She was given an ultimatum—work harder or lose her job. issued the ultimatum that the project be finished by the following week, or it would be terminated
Recent Examples on the Web Brave didn’t step aside until the county commissioners gave him an ultimatum and threatened to initiate a process to remove him against his will. Steven Porter, BostonGlobe.com, 15 Sep. 2023 After Antonio issued an ultimatum, the couple got engaged during the season 2 finale of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On. Joelle Goldstein, Peoplemag, 30 Aug. 2023 Ryann McCracken, 24, radiologic technologist (ultimatum giver), and James Morris, 24, graduate student and research assistant (ultimatum receiver). Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 21 Aug. 2023 In May, Netflix issued an ultimatum to freeloaders: Pony up an additional monthly fee to continue sharing the account or buy your own. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2023 But the ultimatum also rallied many Nigeriens behind their new military leaders. Omar Hama Saley, New York Times, 6 Aug. 2023 After some more arguments and an ultimatum from Harding, the couple came back together for a less rocky journey—and snagged the crown. Time, 1 Aug. 2023 After the forced kiss, players again issued an ultimatum. Rachel Chaundler, New York Times, 5 Sep. 2023 Indeed, since there appears to be little public appetite for sacrificing our children’s futures upon the altar of their elders’ anxiety, what purpose does the Times’ warning serve other than as an ultimatum to the nation’s parents? The Editors, National Review, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ultimatum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, from Medieval Latin, neuter of ultimatus final

First Known Use

1731, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ultimatum was in 1731

Dictionary Entries Near ultimatum

Cite this Entry

“Ultimatum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ultimatum. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


ul·​ti·​ma·​tum ˌəl-tə-ˈmāt-əm How to pronounce ultimatum (audio) -ˈmät- How to pronounce ultimatum (audio)
plural ultimatums or ultimata -ə How to pronounce ultimatum (audio)
: a demand that if rejected will bring about an end of peaceful talks and could lead to forceful action

More from Merriam-Webster on ultimatum

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