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[op-tuh-muh m] /ˈɒp tə məm/
noun, plural optima
[op-tuh-muh] /ˈɒp tə mə/ (Show IPA),
the best or most favorable point, degree, amount, etc., as of temperature, light, and moisture for the growth or reproduction of an organism.
the greatest degree or best result obtained or obtainable under specific conditions.
most favorable or desirable; best:
optimum conditions.
Origin of optimum
1875-80; < Latin: noun use of neuter of optimus best, suppletive superlative of bonus good
3. ideal, perfect, optimal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for optimum
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Historical Examples
  • We would regard five or six couples as the optimum number, but seldom have we enjoyed this luxury.

  • Cultivation has been carried far beyond the optimum regions.

    The Apple-Tree L. H. Bailey
  • Some of us have not been able to perceive at all clearly the optimum lines of action.

    Triplanetary Edward Elmer Smith
  • In the present case the optimum temperature is in the neighbourhood of 35C.

    Life Movements in Plants Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose
  • My cousin, young Denny Swinton, was to dine with me that evening at the optimum.

    Phroso Anthony Hope
British Dictionary definitions for optimum


noun (pl) -ma (-mə), -mums
a condition, degree, amount or compromise that produces the best possible result
most favourable or advantageous; best: optimum conditions
Word Origin
C19: from Latin: the best (thing), from optimus best; see optimism
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
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Word Origin and History for optimum

1879, from Latin optimum, neuter singular of optimus "best" (used as a superlative of bonus "good"), probably related to ops "power, resources" (in which case the evolution is from "richest" to "the most esteemed," thus from PIE root *op- "to work") or to ob "in front of," with superlative suffix *-tumos. Originally in biology, in reference to "conditions most favorable" (for growth, etc.). As an adjective from 1885.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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