next to the last: the penultimate scene of the play.
of or relating to a penult or the next to the last syllable in a word: In the word appropriate, -pri- is the penultimate syllable.


a penult.

Origin of penultimate

First recorded in 1670–80; see origin at penult, ultimate
Can be confusedlast penultimate ultimate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for penultimate

Contemporary Examples of penultimate

Historical Examples of penultimate

British Dictionary definitions for penultimate



next to the last


anything that is next to the last, esp a penult

Word Origin for penultimate

C17: from Latin paene almost + ultimate, on the model of Latin paenultimus
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 penultimate

1670s, from penultima (n.) on model of proximate.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper