extreme

1 of 2

adjective

ex·​treme ik-ˈstrēm How to pronounce extreme (audio)
1
a
: existing in a very high degree
extreme poverty
b
: going to great or exaggerated lengths : radical
went on an extreme diet
c
: exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected
extreme weather conditions
2
archaic : last
3
: situated at the farthest possible point from a center
the country's extreme north
4
a
: most advanced or thoroughgoing
the extreme political left
b
5
a
: of, relating to, or being an outdoor activity or a form of a sport (such as skiing) that involves an unusually high degree of physical risk
extreme mountain biking down steep slopes
b
: involved in an extreme sport
an extreme snowboarder
extremeness noun

extreme

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: something situated at or marking one end or the other of a range
extremes of heat and cold
b
: the first term or the last term of a mathematical proportion
c
: the major term or minor term of a syllogism
2
a
: a very pronounced or excessive degree
b
: highest degree : maximum
3
: an extreme measure or expedient
going to extremes
Phrases
in the extreme
: to the greatest possible extent
Choose the Right Synonym for extreme

excessive, immoderate, inordinate, extravagant, exorbitant, extreme mean going beyond a normal limit.

excessive implies an amount or degree too great to be reasonable or acceptable.

excessive punishment

immoderate implies lack of desirable or necessary restraint.

immoderate spending

inordinate implies an exceeding of the limits dictated by reason or good judgment.

inordinate pride

extravagant implies an indifference to restraints imposed by truth, prudence, or good taste.

extravagant claims for the product

exorbitant implies a departure from accepted standards regarding amount or degree.

exorbitant prices

extreme may imply an approach to the farthest limit possible or conceivable but commonly means only to a notably high degree.

extreme shyness

Examples of extreme in a Sentence

Adjective The plant is sensitive to extreme heat and cold. They are living in extreme poverty. She went on an extreme diet. Many thought that the punishment was too extreme for the crime. The plan was rejected as too extreme. This is an extreme example of what can happen when a company grows too quickly. He has extreme opinions when it comes to politics. Members of the extreme right opposed the legislation. Noun After spending lavishly for years, the company has now gone to the opposite extreme and has cut expenses drastically. His mood changed from one extreme to the other.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
But the thing that’s overriding that is a really pure, just extreme excitement—and a chance to animate this book that has been in my head for so long. Hazlitt, 10 Apr. 2024 But most clerics are pliant, and a vocal minority are even more extreme than their patriarch. Robert F. Worth, The Atlantic, 10 Apr. 2024 The Israel-Hamas war in particular has set off extreme controversy over statements by university leaders, often leading to cycles of backlash and more statements. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2024 Public book burnings typically illustrate extreme censorship related to political, cultural and religious materials. Anna Sago, Kansas City Star, 10 Apr. 2024 Artemis’s operations will be focused on the moon’s south pole, a region known for its rugged terrain, extreme temperatures and potential for frozen water. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Apr. 2024 Kennedy, whose campaign is managed by his daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, a former CIA officer, and includes communications director Del Bigtree, the CEO of an anti-vaccine advocacy group, has promoted false claims, extreme positions and shifting postures on a variety of issues. Meryl Kornfield, Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2024 Its extreme demands are designed to bring about a ceasefire and leave it intact, to ensure its survival, existence and ability to endanger our citizens and soldiers. Anders Hagstrom, Fox News, 7 Apr. 2024 Parts of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma are in the extreme fire weather risk area, with relative humidity dropping below 10% and winds gusting over 60 mph. Daniel Amarante, ABC News, 6 Apr. 2024
Noun
Companies can, of course, take cool-sounding technology to a ridiculous extreme. Shira Ovide, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2024 Through Zaillian’s eyes, Ripley takes the core story’s backdrop of privilege to a desperate extreme. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Apr. 2024 The displays are also not guaranteed in coming years as climate change tips the scale toward more frequent extremes. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 18 Mar. 2024 Now is not the time for businesses and nonprofits to go to extremes either. Eric Reicin, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 Mila had to go to extremes to protect Felicia, such as hiding her in a bag of fabric scraps while Mila was working in a factory, and temporarily sending Felicia to live in a covenant under a false name. Carly Tagen-Dye, Peoplemag, 24 Mar. 2024 In between these two extremes came the Waco Brothers’ official showcase at the Palm Door on Sixth, not to mention Langford’s solo showcase at the Seven Grand, arriving less than an hour after the Wacos departed the Palm Door. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rolling Stone, 17 Mar. 2024 Whether targeting TikTok will advance that purpose is doubtful in the extreme. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 14 Mar. 2024 The Oscars have always sentimentally embraced Hollywood’s liberal extremes. Armond White, National Review, 13 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin extremus, superlative of exter, exterus being on the outside — more at exterior

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of extreme was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near extreme

Cite this Entry

“Extreme.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extreme. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

extreme

1 of 2 adjective
ex·​treme ik-ˈstrēm How to pronounce extreme (audio)
1
: existing to a very great degree
extreme heat
extreme poverty
2
: farthest from a center
3
: most advanced or thorough
the extreme political right
4
: relating to a form of a sport that involves an unusually high degree of risk
extreme skiing
extremely adverb
extremeness noun

extreme

2 of 2 noun
1
: something situated as far away as possible from another
extremes of heat and cold
2
: the first term or the last term of a mathematical proportion
3
: a very pronounced or excessive degree
4
: an extraordinary measure
going to extremes

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