Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The outermost or farthest point or portion.
  • noun The greatest or utmost degree.
  • noun Grave danger, necessity, or distress.
  • noun An extreme or severe measure.
  • noun A bodily limb.
  • noun The hands and feet.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The utmost point or side; the end or the verge; the point or border that terminates a thing: as, the extremities of a bridge; the extremities of a lake.
  • noun In anatomy and zoology, a limb or an organ of locomotion; an appendage or appendicular part of the body.
  • noun The highest degree; the most intense form: as, to suffer the extremity of pain or cruelty.
  • noun Extreme or utmost need, distress, or difficulty; the greatest degree of destitution or helplessness; specifically, death: as, a city besieged and reduced to extremity; man's extremity is God's opportunity.
  • noun plural Extreme measures: as, the commander was compelled to proceed to extremities.
  • noun Synonyms Extremity, End, Extreme, border, termination. Extremity is opposed to middle, end to beginning, and extreme to mean or moderate degree. Extreme is now used only in figurative senses; the others are literal or figurative. Extreme generally indicates that which is excessive, exaggerated, or extravagant: as, he was dressed in the extreme of the fashion; “avoid extremes,” Pope, Essay on Criticism, l. 385. For the direct expression of a great distress, etc., extremity is used, and extreme is rare or obsolete.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The extreme part; the utmost limit; the farthest or remotest point or part.
  • noun (Zoöl.) One of locomotive appendages of an animal; a limb; a leg or an arm of man.
  • noun The utmost point; highest degree; most aggravated or intense form.
  • noun The highest degree of inconvenience, pain, or suffering; greatest need or peril; extreme need; necessity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The most extreme or furthest point of something.
  • noun An extreme measure.
  • noun A hand or foot.

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

  • noun the outermost or farthest region or point
  • noun the greatest or utmost degree
  • noun an extreme condition or state (especially of adversity or disease)
  • noun that part of a limb that is farthest from the torso
  • noun an external body part that projects from the body

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English extremite, from Old French extremite, from Latin extremitas ("the extremity or end"), from extremis ("furthest, extreme"); see extreme.

Examples

  • At the extremity is the County Courthouse; on the right is the tall spire of the Presbyterian, and on the left the tower of the Episcopal Church.

    Macon, Georgia

  • Note, If Christ's visits to his people be deferred long, yet at length he will come; and their extremity is his opportunity to appear for them so much the more seasonably.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume V (Matthew to John)

  • “Yet, never, in extremity … It asked a crumb of me.”

    2008 December « Becca’s Byline

  • “Yet, never, in extremity … It asked a crumb of me.”

    Hope

  • They have a screen of wall about a hundred yards long with a central prayer-niche and the normal three steps for the preacher; and each extremity is garnished with an imitation minaret.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • At the extremity is seen, in perspective at the top R.H. a cavity, which may be supposed an entrance.

    Obi Pantomime Act I, Obi, Praxis Series, Romantic Circles

  • He does not scruple, in extremity, to use the dreadful antique of the passenger who takes off his shoe just as the street-car is passing the glue factory (the first glue factory was probably in Abdera) and he uses again and again certain little whimwhams of his own of which he has grown fond.

    Christopher Morley writes about Don Marquis

  • We examined the charts for possible islands to which to run in extremity, but there were no such islands.

    Chapter 9

  • We examined the charts for possible islands to which to run in extremity, but there were no such islands.

    Chapter 9

  • While she was turning these things over in her mind it occurred to her that "man's extremity is God's opportunity."

    The Hidden Hand

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