[ lat-er ]
/ ˈlæt ər /


being the second mentioned of two (distinguished from former): I prefer the latter offer to the former one.
more advanced in time; later: in these latter days of human progress.
near or comparatively near to the end: the latter part of the century.
Obsolete. last1; final.

Origin of latter

before 1000; Middle English latt(e)re, Old English lætra, comparative of læt late

Can be confused

former later latterladder latter

Definition for latter (2 of 2)


[ leyt ]
/ leɪt /

adjective, lat·er or lat·ter, lat·est or last.

adverb, lat·er, lat·est.

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 forms

late·ness, nouno·ver·late, adjectiveo·ver·late·ness, noun

Can be confused

former later latter Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for latter

British Dictionary definitions for latter (1 of 2)


/ (ˈlætə) /

adjective (prenominal)

  1. denoting the second or second mentioned of two: distinguished from former
  2. (as noun; functioning as sing or plural)the latter is not important
near or nearer the endthe latter part of a film
more advanced in time or sequence; later


The latter should only be used to refer to the second of two items: many people choose to go by hovercraft rather than use the ferry, but I prefer the latter. The last of three or more items can be referred to as the last-named

British Dictionary definitions for latter (2 of 2)


/ (leɪt) /



Derived Forms

lateness, noun

Word Origin for late

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


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

Idioms and Phrases with latter


In addition to the idioms beginning with late

  • late in life
  • late in the day

also see:

  • at the latest
  • better late than never
  • Johnny-come-lately
  • keep late hours
  • of late
  • the latest
  • too little, too late

Also see underlater.

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