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last1

[last, lahst]
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adjective a superl. of late with later as compar.
  1. occurring or coming after all others, as in time, order, or place: the last line on a page.
  2. most recent; next before the present; latest: last week; last Friday.
  3. being the only one remaining: my last dollar; the last outpost; a last chance.
  4. final: in his last hours.
  5. ultimate or conclusive; definitive: the last word in the argument.
  6. lowest in prestige or importance: last prize.
  7. coming after all others in suitability or likelihood; least desirable: He is the last person we'd want to represent us.
  8. individual; single: The lecture won't start until every last person is seated.
  9. utmost; extreme: the last degree of delight.
  10. Ecclesiastical. (of the sacraments of penance, viaticum, or extreme unction) extreme or final; administered to a person dying or in danger of dying.
adverb
  1. after all others; latest: He arrived last at the party.
  2. on the most recent occasion: When last seen, the suspect was wearing a checked suit.
  3. in the end; finally; in conclusion.
noun
  1. a person or thing that is last.
  2. a final appearance or mention: We've seen the last of her. That's the last we'll hear of it.
  3. the end or conclusion: We are going on vacation the last of September.
Idioms
  1. at last, after a lengthy pause or delay: He was lost in thought for several minutes, but at last he spoke.
  2. at long last, after much troublesome or frustrating delay: The ship docked at long last.
  3. breathe one's last, to die: He was nearly 90 when he breathed his last.

Origin of last1

before 900; Middle English last, latst, syncopated variant of latest, Old English latest, lætest, superlative of læt, late
Can be confusedlast penultimate ultimate

Synonyms

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1. Last, final, ultimate refer to what comes as an ending. That which is last comes or stands after all others in a stated series or succession; last may refer to objects or activities: a seat in the last row; the last game. That which is final comes at the end, or serves to end or terminate, admitting of nothing further; final is rarely used of objects: to make a final attempt. That which is ultimate (literally, most remote) is the last that can be reached, as in progression or regression, experience, or a course of investigation: ultimate truths.

last2

[last, lahst]
verb (used without object)
  1. to go on or continue in time: The festival lasted three weeks.
  2. to continue unexpended or unexhausted; be enough: We'll enjoy ourselves while our money lasts.
  3. to continue in force, vigor, effectiveness, etc.: to last for the whole course.
  4. to continue or remain in usable condition for a reasonable period of time: They were handsome shoes but they didn't last.
verb (used with object)
  1. to continue to survive for the duration of (often followed by out): They lasted the war in Switzerland.

Origin of last2

before 900; Middle English lasten, Old English lǣstan to follow (literally, go in the tracks of), perform, continue, last; cognate with German laisten to follow, Gothic laistjan. See last3

Synonym study

1. See continue.

last3

[last, lahst]
noun
  1. a wooden or metal form in the shape of the human foot on which boots or shoes are shaped or repaired.
  2. the shape or form of a shoe.
verb (used with object)
  1. to shape on or fit to a last.
Idioms
  1. stick to one's last, to keep to that work, field, etc., in which one is competent or skilled.

Origin of last3

before 900; Middle English lest(e), last(e), Old English lǣste; cognate with German Leisten; akin to Old English lāst, Gothic laists track
Related formslast·er, noun

last4

[last, lahst]
noun
  1. any of various large units of weight or capacity, varying in amount in different localities and for different commodities, often equivalent to 4000 pounds (1814.37 kilograms).

Origin of last4

before 900; Middle English; Old English hlæst; cognate with Dutch last, German Last load; akin to lade

late

[leyt]
adjective, lat·er or lat·ter, lat·est or last.
  1. occurring, coming, or being after the usual or proper time: late frosts; a late spring.
  2. continued until after the usual time or hour; protracted: a late business meeting.
  3. near or at the end of day or well into the night: a late hour.
  4. belonging to the time just before the present moment; most recent: a late news bulletin.
  5. immediately preceding the present one; former: the late attorney general.
  6. recently deceased: the late Mr. Phipps.
  7. occurring at an advanced stage in life: a late marriage.
  8. belonging to an advanced period or stage in the history or development of something: the late phase of feudalism.
adverb, lat·er, lat·est.
  1. after the usual or proper time, or after delay: to arrive late.
  2. until after the usual time or hour; until an advanced hour, especially of the night: to work late.
  3. at or to an advanced time, period, or stage: The flowers keep their blossoms late in warm climates.
  4. recently but no longer: a man late of Chicago, now living in Philadelphia.
Idioms
  1. of late, lately; recently: The days have been getting warmer of late.

Origin of late

before 900; Middle English; Old English læt slow, late; cognate with German lass slothful, Old Norse latr, Gothic lats slow, lazy, Latin lassus tired
Related formslate·ness, nouno·ver·late, adjectiveo·ver·late·ness, noun
Can be confusedformer later latter

Synonyms

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1. tardy; slow, dilatory; delayed, belated. 4. See modern.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for last

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I have sought for thee throughout the world, and at last I believed thee dead.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • I heard about it from Mrs. Balldridge when we came here last fall.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Here we see but a few of the last links, and those imperfectly.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • They were the last she heard sung by Paralus, the night Anaxagoras departed from Athens.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • "I've just finished," said Percival, glancing down the last sheet.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson


British Dictionary definitions for last

last1

adjective (often prenominal)
  1. being, happening, or coming at the end or after all othersthe last horse in the race
  2. being or occurring just before the present; most recentlast Thursday
  3. last but not least coming last in order but nevertheless important
  4. last but one next to last
  5. only remainingone's last cigarette
  6. most extreme; utmost
  7. least suitable, appropriate, or likelyhe was the last person I would have chosen
  8. (esp relating to the end of a person's life or of the world)
    1. final or ultimatelast rites
    2. (capital)the Last Judgment
  9. (postpositive) Liverpool dialect inferior, unpleasant, or contemptiblethis ale is last
adverb
  1. after all others; at or in the endhe came last
    1. most recentlyhe was last seen in the mountains
    2. (in combination)last-mentioned
  2. (sentence modifier) as the last or latest item
noun
  1. the last
    1. a person or thing that is last
    2. the final moment; end
  2. one's last moments before death
  3. the last thing a person can do (esp in the phrase breathe one's last)
  4. the final appearance, mention, or occurrencewe've seen the last of him
  5. at last in the end; finally
  6. at long last finally, after difficulty, delay, or irritation

Word Origin

variant of Old English latest, lætest, superlative of late

usage

Since last can mean either after all others or most recent, it is better to avoid using this word where ambiguity might arise as in her last novel. Final or latest should be used in such contexts to avoid ambiguity

last2

verb
  1. (when intr, often foll by for) to remain in being (for a length of time); continuehis hatred lasted for several years
  2. to be sufficient for the needs of (a person) for (a length of time)it will last us until Friday
  3. (when intr, often foll by for) to remain fresh, uninjured, or unaltered (for a certain time or duration)he lasted for three hours underground
See also last out
Derived Formslaster, noun

Word Origin

Old English lǣstan; related to Gothic laistjan to follow

last3

noun
  1. the wooden or metal form on which a shoe or boot is fashioned or repaired
verb
  1. (tr) to fit (a shoe or boot) on a last
Derived Formslaster, noun

Word Origin

Old English lǣste, from lāst footprint; related to Old Norse leistr foot, Gothic laists

last4

noun
  1. a unit of weight or capacity having various values in different places and for different commodities. Commonly used values are 2 tons, 2000 pounds, 80 bushels, or 640 gallons

Word Origin

Old English hlæst load; related to hladan to lade 1

late

adjective
  1. occurring or arriving after the correct or expected timethe train was late
  2. (prenominal) occurring, scheduled for, or being at a relatively advanced timea late marriage
  3. (prenominal) towards or near the endthe late evening
  4. at an advanced time in the evening or at nightit was late
  5. (prenominal) occurring or being just previous to the present timehis late remarks on industry
  6. (prenominal) having died, esp recentlymy late grandfather
  7. (prenominal) just preceding the present or existing person or thing; formerthe late manager of this firm
  8. of late recently; lately
adverb
  1. after the correct or expected timehe arrived late
  2. at a relatively advanced ageshe married late
  3. recently; latelyas late as yesterday he was selling books
  4. late hours rising and going to bed later than is usual
  5. late in the day
    1. at a late or advanced stage
    2. too late
Derived Formslateness, noun

Word Origin

Old English læt; related to Old Norse latr, Gothic lats

usage

Since late can mean deceased, many people think it is better to avoid using this word to refer to the person who held a post or position before its present holder: the previous (not the late) editor of The Times
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for last

adj., adv.

"following all others," from Old English latost (adj.) and lætest (adv.), superlative of læt (see late). Cognate with Old Frisian lest, Dutch laatst, Old High German laggost, German letzt. Meaning "most recent" is from c.1200. The noun, "last person or thing," is c.1200, from the adjective. Last hurrah is from the title of Edwin O'Connor's 1956 novel. Last word "final, definitive statement" is from 1650s. A dying person's last words so called by 1740. As an adjective, last-minute attested from 1913. Last-chance (adj.) is from 1962.

v.

"endure, go on existing," from Old English læstan "to continue, endure," earlier "accomplish, carry out," literally "to follow a track," from Proto-Germanic *laistjan "to follow a track" (cf. Gothic laistjan "to follow," Old Frisian lasta "to fulfill, to pay (duties)," German leisten "to perform, achieve, afford"), from PIE *leis- "track, furrow."

Related to last (n.), not to last (adj.). Related: Lasted; lasting.

n.

"shoemaker's block," from Old English læste, from last "track, footprint, trace," from Proto-Germanic *laist- (cf. Old Norse leistr "the foot," Middle Dutch, Dutch leest "form, model, last," Old High German leist "track, footprint," German Leisten "last," Gothic laistjan "to follow," Old English læran "to teach"); see last (v.).

late

adj.

Old English læt "occurring after the customary or expected time," originally "slow, sluggish," from Proto-Germanic *lata- (cf. Old Norse latr "sluggish, lazy," Middle Dutch, Old Saxon lat, German laß "idle, weary," Gothic lats "weary, sluggish, lazy," latjan "to hinder"), from PIE *led- "slow, weary" (cf. Latin lassus "faint, weary, languid, exhausted," Greek ledein "to be weary"), from root *le- "to let go, slacken" (see let (v.)).

The sense of "deceased" (as in the late Mrs. Smith) is from late 15c., from an adverbial sense of "recently." Of women's menstrual periods, attested colloquially from 1962. Related: Lateness. As an adverb, from Old English late.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with last

last

late

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.