• synonyms


[uhl-tuh-mey-tuh m, -mah-]
noun, plural ul·ti·ma·tums, ul·ti·ma·ta [uhl-tuh-mey-tuh, -mah-] /ˌʌl təˈmeɪ tə, -ˈmɑ-/.
  1. a final, uncompromising demand or set of terms issued by a party to a dispute, the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force.
  2. a final proposal or statement of conditions.
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Origin of ultimatum

1725–35; < New Latin, noun use of neuter of Late Latin ultimātus. See ultimate
Can be confusedultimate ultimatum
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for ultimata

Historical Examples

  • These points were no longer to be "ultimata" but only matters for discussion.

    Jefferson and his Colleagues

    Allen Johnson

  • On the 18th, one was sent to the same Minister, with propositions which were then regarded as their ultimata.

  • The Allies were not in a position—this need be no secret now—to send adequate forces to enforce their ultimata.

    Herbert Hoover

    Vernon Kellogg

  • Of course they have the instructions of the President, with his ultimata, etc., but they will strive earnestly for peace.

British Dictionary definitions for ultimata


noun plural -tums or -ta (-tə)
  1. a final communication by a party, esp a government, setting forth conditions on which it insists, as during negotiations on some topic
  2. any final or peremptory demand, offer, or proposal
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Word Origin

C18: from New Latin, neuter of ultimatus ultimate
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 ultimata



1731, from Modern Latin, from Medieval Latin adjective ultimatum "last possible, final," from Latin ultimatum, neuter of ultimatus (see ultimate). Hamilton and others use the Latin plural ultimata. In slang c.1820s, ultimatum was used for "the buttocks."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ultimata in Culture



A formal message delivered from one government to another threatening war if the receiving government fails to comply with conditions set forth in the message. For example, after the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, the government of Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia, which Austria held responsible for the assassination.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.