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 At four and a half hours total, most episodes are more than 30 minutes long, but the penultimate episode is only 25 minutes followed by a 43-minute finale. Jamie Lang, Variety, 7 Oct. 2021 In the penultimate episode, the trio of amateur sleuths will need back up to not only solve the suspicious death of Tim Kono, but take down a major crime ring. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 4 Oct. 2021 Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead—the penultimate episode of this first third of Season 11—was quite good. Erik Kain, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2021 The penultimate episode set up a pretty juicy cliffhanger, so the finish still might pay off. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, 1 Oct. 2021 Gi-hun is out for blood, after Sang-woo killed Sae-byeok at the end of the penultimate episode (RIP, queen). Quinci Legardye, Marie Claire, 24 Sep. 2021 The penultimate Recent Sculpture gallery is a unique experience at night, with the flickering city lights casting a new sensory experience. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 25 Sep. 2021 This, the penultimate vintage of the Rojo Grande, is floral and plummy, with a refreshing bitterness and a jolt of acidity that carries across the palate. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Sep. 2021 Neither should have any issues hopping into the cockpit of their Indy cars for Friday's afternoon practice and the rest of the series' penultimate race weekend. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 18 Sep. 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

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penultimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 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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