ultimatum

noun
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 ultimata (audio) , -​ˈmä-​ \

Definition of ultimatum

: a final proposition, condition, or demand especially : one whose rejection will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other direct action

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Did You Know?

An ultimatum is usually issued by a stronger power to a weaker one, since it wouldn't carry much weight if the one giving the ultimatum couldn't back up its threat. Near the end of World War II, the Allied powers issued an ultimatum to Japan: surrender completely or face the consequences. Japan rejected the ultimatum, and within days the U.S. had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing some 200,000 people.

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 Behind her, on a highway divider near Victoria Park, a line of graffiti spells out the front liners’ ultimatum: Freedom or Death. Time, "'I Absolutely Will Not Back Down.' Meet the Young People at the Heart of Hong Kong's Rebellion," 23 Jan. 2020 Then came the divorce ultimatum: Leave her husband, or lose the kids. Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, "Criminalizing 'children who have been traumatized': How foster care led to prison," 20 Nov. 2019 Now, Brown has issued the same ultimatum to Mayock, coach Jon Gruden and the team. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: There’s only one solution to the Raiders’ Antonio Brown problem," 5 Sep. 2019 Police surrounded the area Sunday night and began moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave the area. Kelvin Chan, The Denver Post, "Campus under siege as Hong Kong police battle protesters," 18 Nov. 2019 Police surrounded the area Sunday night and began moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave the area. Ken Moritsugu, Anchorage Daily News, "Protesters try to leave Hong Kong campus but avoid arrest," 18 Nov. 2019 Police surrounded the area Sunday night and began moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave the area. BostonGlobe.com, "Protesters advanced on the police from outside the cordon, while others emerged from the campus, their trademark umbrellas at the fore. Police in some places swooped in to subdue protesters and make arrests.," 18 Nov. 2019 The city issued Ambrose an ultimatum: Voluntarily negotiate a purchase price, or risk losing the property through eminent domain. Alexandria Burris, Indianapolis Star, "Ambrose says the city offered at least $59 million less than what former GM site is worth," 9 Sep. 2019 Rio gets pulled into helping Beau (David Koechner) and Kay (Lennon Parham) with their relationship after Kay gives Beau an ultimatum. Alicia Kortendick, al, "‘Bless This Mess’ returns tonight (01/21/20) | How to watch, time, channel, live stream," 21 Jan. 2020

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

1731, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ultimatum

New Latin, from Medieval Latin, neuter of ultimatus final

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Time Traveler for ultimatum

Time Traveler

The first known use of ultimatum was in 1731

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Statistics for ultimatum

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ultimatum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ultimatum. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for ultimatum

ultimatum

noun
How to pronounce ultimatum (audio) How to pronounce ultimatum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ultimatum

: a final threat : a promise that force or punishment will be used if someone does not do what is wanted

ultimatum

noun
ul·​ti·​ma·​tum | \ ˌəl-tə-ˈmā-təm How to pronounce ultimatum (audio) \
plural ultimatums or ultimata\ -​ˈmā-​tə \

Kids Definition of ultimatum

: a final condition or demand that if rejected could end future negotiations and lead to forceful or undesirable action

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Comments on ultimatum

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