[pee-nuhlt, pi-nuhlt]


the next to the last syllable in a word.

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

Examples from the Web for penultima

Historical Examples of penultima

British Dictionary definitions for penultima


penultima (pɪˈnʌltɪmə)


the last syllable but one in a word

Word Origin for penult

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).



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper