Definition of penultimate in English:



  • [attributive] Last but one in a series of things; second last.

    ‘the penultimate chapter of the book’
    • ‘The penultimate volume will unlock the key to the whole series, with one leading character being killed off.’
    • ‘The final disc was surprisingly easy, considering how much I struggled through the penultimate one.’
    • ‘His score was the fifth best of all time, despite only taking the lead after the penultimate event.’
    • ‘This season we have had eight different drivers winning races and a three-way title fight up to the penultimate round.’
    • ‘Posting one of the fastest times, she was unlucky to nudge a pole at the penultimate fence to finish eighth overall.’
    • ‘Going into yesterday's penultimate stage nine Scottish riders were still on course to make it to Dublin.’
    • ‘He dropped right out of contention before they jumped the penultimate fence.’
    • ‘It seems certain that the opening chapter of the penultimate story in the series will contain major revelations.’
    • ‘The frantic opening track pace is kept up right until the penultimate song.’
    • ‘It took a while to pass from the penultimate bus-stop to the stop outside the Tube, but that is far from remarkable.’
    • ‘This is shown by the penultimate episode with the boy who attempts to cast a bell despite not knowing how.’
    • ‘I have therefore rewritten the last pages of the penultimate chapter in which an attempt was made to judge his career.’
    • ‘The pair placed a third fastest time on the penultimate stage of the rally and moved into second place.’
    • ‘The penultimate chapter of the book asks if fascism can reappear in modern society, using the five stages as an indicator.’
    • ‘Even so, they will go tomorrow into the penultimate day of the series knowing they still have a chance of squaring it.’
    • ‘Although the duo finished four days behind the penultimate boat in their class, there was no disgrace in this.’
    • ‘He was even part of the penultimate match in the third round at Sandwich.’
    • ‘This book, the penultimate volume of a projected three volume set is, if you are going to buy one, the one to buy.’
    • ‘The penultimate step came in July 1998 when he was made executive director and chief operating officer.’
    • ‘As the tension mounted during the penultimate test of the day, less than four seconds separated the top six finishers.’


Late 17th century: from Latin paenultimus, from paene almost + ultimus last, on the pattern of ultimate.