• synonyms


[pee-nuhlt, pi-nuhlt]
  1. the next to the last syllable in a word.
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Also pe·nul·ti·ma [pi-nuhl-tuh-muh] /pɪˈnʌl tə mə/.

Origin of penult

1530–40; < Latin paenultima (syllaba), contraction of paene ultima almost the last; see pen-, ultima
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for penultima

Historical Examples

  • But Ἀργυρία, with the accent on the penultima, becomes the name of a town.

    The Geography of Strabo, Volume II (of 3)


  • Disyllables lengthen the penultima, as 'stable', 'title', 'pupil'.

  • Trisyllabic verbs throw the stress back and shorten the penultima, as 'dsŏlate', 'sffŏcate', 'scntĭllate'.

  • A fully stressed vowel before a mute and r, or before d or pl, was pronounced long in the penultima.

  • With no vowel before the penultima the long quality is, as usual, preserved, as in 'satiety'.

British Dictionary definitions for penultima


penultima (pɪˈnʌltɪmə)

  1. the last syllable but one in a word
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Word Origin

C16: Latin paenultima syllaba, from paene ultima almost the last
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 penultima


1580s, from Latin penultima (syllaba), "the next to the last syllable of a word or verse," from fem. of Latin adjective penultimus "next-to-last," from paene "almost" + ultimus "final" (see ultimate).

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"last but one," 1530s, abbreviation of penultima. As a noun from 1570s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper