pen·​ul·​ti·​mate | \ pi-ˈnəl-tə-mət How to pronounce penultimate (audio) \

Definition of penultimate

1 : next to the last the penultimate chapter of a book
2 : of or relating to the next to the last syllable of a word a penultimate accent

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Other Words from penultimate

penultimately adverb

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Penultimate isn't the last word in words for things that are next to last. There is a pair of noun synonyms that are used commonly enough to have gained entry into abridged dictionaries: penult and penultima. Although all three can refer to something that's next to last, penult and penultima are usually a bit more specific; they are used most often to identify the next to last syllable of a word. All three derive from paenultima, a Latin root from paene ("almost") and ultima ("last"). You may occasionally hear the word penultimate used as an intensified version of ultimate, as in "a race they've called 'the penultimate challenge.'" This use isn't typically found in edited prose, however-or in dictionaries. One of our editors discusses it in this video.

Examples of penultimate in a Sentence

Belle was the penultimate person to die, just hours before a slave, fifty-three-year-old Alba, wandered in delirium away from his cabin and sat down to death in front of Carlyle's airing-out cottage. — Edward P. Jones, The Known World, 2003 He threw harder in the last inning than he did in the first, whiffing pinch hitter Darryl Strawberry with a 97-mph heater for the penultimate out and blowing away the final hitter, Knoblauch, with a 96-mph fastball. — Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 27 Mar. 2000 … regulations have cleared the penultimate hurdle and appear ready to become law … — John Aloysius Farrell, Sunday Denver (CO) Post, 2 Sept. 1984 Pompey … speaks of her mother's difficult death and of her own longings for death and rises to a rare moment of lyric power in the novel's penultimate paragraph. — Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review, 3 Oct. 1982 the penultimate syllable of the word
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Recent Examples on the Web The Haunting of Bly Manor took cues from The Turn of the Screw, but the penultimate episode, which starred Siegel in the origin story for the show's faceless woman, was adapted from James' The Romance of Certain Old Clothes. Nick Romano,, 16 Sep. 2021 The penultimate episode of Lovecraft Country sees the show’s main characters transported back in time to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, on the night the infamous Tulsa Race Massacre began. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 6 Sep. 2021 In the penultimate episode, Mary, whose dating life has been serially unsatisfying, decides perhaps the thing to do is to date Lou. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2021 Today’s penultimate day of the 82nd summer meeting features two races for 2-year-old fillies — the 7-furlong, $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Debutante and the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf at a mile. Bill Center, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Sep. 2021 The Sun head on the road for their next four games before returning for their penultimate regular-season contest on Sept. 15 versus the New York Liberty. Alexa Philippou,, 29 Aug. 2021 Anne Nickoloff reports that the penultimate show in the series is free and set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 28, featuring headliner Bone Thugs-N-Harmony performing at the Skylight Concourse at Tower City. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 23 Aug. 2021 Normally, in years where there are four preseason games, there’s a playing-time buildup to the third and penultimate preseason game before the fourth is primarily reserved for end-of-the-roster players and training-camp longshots. David Furones,, 20 Aug. 2021 Right as the field was getting ready to start the penultimate lap, leader Kyle Cummins spun in Turn 4, handing the lead to Larson. Rob Peeters, The Indianapolis Star, 19 Aug. 2021

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

1677, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for penultimate

see penult

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Time Traveler for penultimate

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The first known use of penultimate was in 1677

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penultimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for penultimate



English Language Learners Definition of penultimate

: occurring immediately before the last one : next to the last


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