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Definition: Fourth from the last or three before the end (preceding the antepenultimate).

Pronunciation: pri-an-tee-pi-NUHL-tuh-mit


The earliest use of this word was documented in 1746.  It is comprised of the Latin words pre– (before), ante– (before), pen– (nearly), and ultimus (last).  It chiefly refers to phonetics- for example, the preantepenultimate syllable of a word.

Why this word?

I’ve spent a good amount of my life studying Latin and classics, so words with Latin etymologies, either from original Latin words or newer words constructed of Latin origin, always interest me.  This one appealed to me because of the length (18 letters) and the fact that it is comprised of several shorter words or prepositions.  It’s a fun word to say, and it also works as part of a series of words.  For example, preantepenultimate may be the fourth from last, so antepenultimate is the third from last, penultimate is second to last, and the ultimate is the final or last in a series.

How to use the word preantepenultimate?

“I am one of seven cousins, and I am the preantepenultimate one in age order (but the ultimate one in most other area- except for humility).”

“The preantepenultimate chapter of the book had me riveted to the seat.  I stayed up all night to finish reading.” 

“It’s the preantepenultimate day before Christmas!” 


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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