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

  • adjective Next to last.
  • adjective Linguistics Of or relating to the penult of a word.
  • noun The next to the last.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In whist and bridge, the lowest but one of a suit.
  • Immediately preceding that member of a series which is the last; next before the last; being the last but one: as, the penultimate syllable; the penultimate joint. Compare antepenultimate.
  • noun That member of a series which is the last but one; specifically, the last syllable but one of a word.

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

  • noun The penult.
  • adjective Last but one.

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

  • adjective formal Coming next-to-last in a sequence.
  • adjective linguistics Of or pertaining to a penult.
  • noun this sense?) A next-to-last thing.
  • noun linguistics A next-to-last syllable in a linguistic unit.

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

  • noun the next to last syllable in a word
  • adjective next to the last


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

[From Latin paenultimus; see penult.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin paenultimus, from paene ("almost") + ultimus ("last").



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  • Meaning "next to last" not "super ultimate" as people often seem to assume.

    May 20, 2007

  • That's got to be the second-worst language mistake I hear people make all the time.

    May 21, 2007

  • And the first (just out of curiosity)?

    May 21, 2007

  • Literally, when whatever's being described is the exact opposite of literal.

    May 21, 2007

  • Yes! AAAAAARGH! I literally cringe when I hear that. ;-)

    May 21, 2007

  • Likewise on both accounts, with extra cringes for the recent fad of belligerent used as a synonym for drunk/intoxicated. *huuuhg*

    May 21, 2007

  • The use of literally to mean figuratively makes me lose a little more faith in humanity every time I hear it.

    May 23, 2007

  • One of wife's favourties.

    January 19, 2008

  • People who use the word penultimate properly hold a special place in my heart.

    September 23, 2008

  • In the left atrium?

    September 23, 2008