from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lying beyond what is evident, revealed, or avowed, especially being concealed intentionally so as to deceive: an ulterior motive.
  • adj. Lying beyond or outside the area of immediate interest.
  • adj. Occurring later; subsequent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. beyond what is obvious or evident
  • adj. being intentionally concealed so as to deceive
  • adj. happening later; subsequent

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Situated beyond, or on the farther side; thither; -- correlative with hither.
  • adj. Further; remoter; more distant; succeeding.
  • n. Ulterior side or part.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Being or situated beyond or on the further side of any line or boundary.
  • Not at present in view or in consideration; in the future or in the background; beyond what is seen or avowed; remote: as, what ulterior measures will be adopted is uncertain.
  • n. The further side; the remote part. Coleridge.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lying beyond what is openly revealed or avowed (especially being kept in the background or deliberately concealed)
  • adj. beyond or outside an area of immediate interest; remote
  • adj. coming at a subsequent time or stage


Latin, farther, comparative of *ulter, on the other side; see al-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin ulterior, comparative of ulterĀ ("that is beyond"). (Wiktionary)


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  • "In other words, the theoretical, or speculative, sciences differ from the practical sciences in that they are knowledge for its own sake as opposed to knowledge for an ulterior end." - Great Ideas I, p.800

    July 24, 2012