Definition of extreme in English:



  • 1Reaching a high or the highest degree; very great.

    ‘extreme cold’
    • ‘This is why supplier deliveries are slowing to an extreme degree, and unfilled order backlogs are inflating at a double-digit annual pace.’
    • ‘After the divorce, her drinking reached extreme lows.’
    • ‘The extreme degree of the losses, however, caused the society to take immediate action.’
    • ‘You are depending upon yourself to a degree that can cause extreme unease, but this is acute to all species of creativity.’
    • ‘With the outside temperature touching 43 degrees Celsius, the extreme heat policy was in force.’
    • ‘True, her mother had been killed in a terrorist incident when she was younger, but that only made her detest Mercalli to an extreme degree, it didn't make her do crazy counterproductive things.’
    • ‘They experience an extreme degree of occupational segregation.’
    • ‘However, the problem with genome scans involving thousands of markers is that the statistic values of FAs can reach quite extreme magnitudes.’
    • ‘The report also revealed the shocking case of a three-year-old who had died from heart failure brought on by extreme obesity after reaching a weight of six stones.’
    • ‘The district had gone from self-sufficiency to an extreme degree of dependency.’
    • ‘When you hear many extremely positive or negative stories it is often an indication that the ‘mania’ has reached its extreme top or bottom.’
    • ‘The sensitivities of the minorities have been acknowledged to an extreme degree - often at the risk to majority rights.’
    • ‘The custom of sending love tokens goes back hundreds of years, but reached extreme levels in Victorian times where precious items were sent as tokens of forbidden love.’
    • ‘Parents also describe their children as having an extreme degree of grandiose defiance, refusing to comply with authority at home or at school.’
    • ‘Or you're guilty of wishful thinking to an extreme degree.’
    • ‘Reports of ethnic massacres signify an extreme degree of threat and it is hard to dismiss the influence of these reports in triggering group mobilization.’
    • ‘In the current situation resources are so limited that rationing has to be tightened to extreme degrees and as a result only the most severely ill patients may be offered treatment.’
    • ‘Soon there comes a time in which jet lag has seized your mind and body to such an extreme degree that resignation is all that remains.’
    • ‘He configured power to such an extreme degree in our system that the role of his character is absolutely central.’
    • ‘For this an extreme degree of impudence is required, but experience shows cases of it succeeding.’
    utmost, uttermost, very great, greatest, greatest possible, maximum, maximal, highest, ultimate, supreme, paramount, great, acute, major, intense, enormous, severe, high, superlative, exceptional, extraordinary
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    1. 1.1Not usual; exceptional.
      ‘in extreme cases the soldier may be discharged’
      • ‘That category is extreme to exceptional drought conditions.’
      • ‘The town, well known for its extreme temperatures, recently reached a record minimum temperature of 27 degrees Celsius on Sunday.’
      • ‘And ultimately I hope to see its use outlawed for all except the most extreme situations where manual or organic suppression is not an option.’
      • ‘The measures taken to bring the budget into balance can only be described as unusual, perhaps even extreme.’
      • ‘Medical care is the obvious and common example in the American example, but in more extreme cases it can reach to food and shelter.’
      • ‘I have no intention of voting in the European election as I regard postal voting, except in extreme cases, as unnecessary and a step to ending democratic voting as we know it.’
      • ‘Nor was the significance of the event merely symbolic for Bayle, since he himself was a victim of the intolerance to an extreme degree.’
      • ‘The whiplash claimers in car accidents again cannot except in extreme cases be detected medically’
      • ‘And, except under the most extreme circumstances, diplomacy trumps force.’
      • ‘In my opinion any individual who takes another life should have no rights with the exception of extreme cases of cruelty suffered by the killer.’
      • ‘Most servers, even in extreme conditions, rarely reach maximum processing power.’
      • ‘Said to possess exceptional drive and extreme intelligence, Norton's ambitions were not satisfied and he set up a doctors' deputising service.’
      • ‘I am not required to assume the position except in the most extreme circumstances and they are rare indeed.’
      • ‘Beyond the point of Fetal viability it becomes illegal except in extreme circumstances.’
      • ‘Except in the most extreme circumstances, the metal posed no significant threat to human health, a spokeswoman claimed.’
      • ‘And except in extreme cases, I can't see how that's justified.’
      • ‘Indeed there can be no rational reasons for committing suicide except in the most extreme cases.’
      • ‘Booze is so ubiquitous it is difficult to know what its effect on creativity really is, except in extreme cases.’
      • ‘Because commanders will probably not be willing to flatten whole blocks, they may expose their soldiers to the extreme perils of close-quarters combat.’
      • ‘The Senator made it very clear that his opinion was that Democrats were agreeing to forgo filibusters in the future except in very extreme circumstances.’
    2. 1.2Very severe or serious.
      ‘expulsion is an extreme sanction’
      • ‘It is argued that these punishments are extreme, severe and merciless.’
      • ‘The problem is presented as a continuum from normative forms of behavior to extreme and serious attacks.’
      • ‘The criteria for eligibility were extreme hardship, serious injury, damage to their homes, or bereavement directly as a result of the landslide.’
      • ‘The problem in Faliraki has prompted local authorities to take extreme measures, imposing severe punishments for lewd behaviour.’
      • ‘As the hours pass they hear news of extreme weather and bizarre incidents across the world.’
      • ‘He concluded that the cause of death had been due to extreme skull fracture with severe trauma to the brain consistent with the deceased having been hit by a moving vehicle.’
      • ‘Administration, Pentagon and senior military officials warned that such an extreme measure would have serious legal and political implications.’
      • ‘More serious is the extreme danger that the entire political class will throw its weight behind a policy that turns out to be misguided.’
      • ‘Would the loss of South Vietnam pose a threat to US security serious enough to warrant extreme action to prevent it?’
      • ‘He was one of the few people, at that time, to take seriously the more extreme predictions of the general theory of relativity.’
      • ‘If all he takes seriously is the extreme threat of force, then the threat needs to be seen and be seen as immediate.’
      • ‘Both the cases involved much more extreme language and severe criticism of the behaviour and performance of the respective magistrates.’
      • ‘Now is not the time to revert to extreme rhetoric and draconian sanctions against those who support abortion rights.’
      • ‘Few victims survived the extreme brutality and the severest punishments inflicted.’
      • ‘Is the Royal College of Midwives seriously making this extreme, unnatural procedure their norm?’
      • ‘There's usually some restraint, there's usually some sort of reverence for the death penalty, in a sense, because it is such an extreme sanction.’
      • ‘Confined that winter awaiting exile, her mental condition deteriorated, and she made extreme claims that further alarmed visiting ministers.’
      • ‘Further, Dave may have felt that his emotional experience was not being taken seriously, so extreme antisocial behaviour may have been his only way of communicating the extent of his distress.’
      • ‘I am not sure what this monkey did wrong to demand such a harsh and extreme punishment, and I did not in fact beat him to find out.’
      drastic, serious, forceful, desperate, dire, radical, far-reaching, momentous, consequential, substantial
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    3. 1.3(of a person or their opinions) advocating severe or drastic measures; far from moderate, especially politically.
      ‘the party has expelled some of its more extreme members’
      • ‘Labour's application to govern you is based on a myth that the only alternative is a more extreme version of what they offer.’
      • ‘Cadres of extreme fighters in terrorist and militant organizations have a proclivity for violence that evidence of its past futility cannot deter.’
      • ‘The Sunday New York Times reported on the progress of the plot to pick youngish and extreme candidates.’
      • ‘More extreme members of right-wing groups tap into this divide by encouraging mistrust of city dwellers and the educated.’
      • ‘Not surprisingly, most of the respondents expressed extreme opinions about Springer.’
      • ‘He doesn't, of course, but instead winds it up until there is no choice but to feel torn between equally extreme alternatives in much the same way Jeffrey is torn.’
      • ‘As de Gaulle began to disentangle his nation from the interminable drain of money, resources and blood that was the Algerian war, Le Pen began his first serious flirtation with the extreme right.’
      • ‘He said the world was facing a new threat from ‘brutal states’ armed with weapons of mass destruction, and from extreme terrorists.’
      • ‘His alliance extends from economic neo-liberals to Christian Democrats and extreme right-wing nationalists.’
      • ‘But this new world faces a new threat of disorder and chaos born either of brutal states armed with weapons of mass destruction or of extreme terrorist groups.’
      • ‘In some ways, it is bad, because I think it has exacerbated the division, which in part explains the extreme opinions the post has raised.’
      • ‘That sort of extreme attitude is what has put fear into the minds of New Zealanders, and it is why contemporary claims send a shiver down their spine.’
      • ‘This organisation is not simply an isolated enclave of extreme prejudice and backwardness.’
      • ‘Such concerns are legitimate, but to form a political alliance with the extreme right of the Republican Party on this basis is unprincipled and reactionary.’
      • ‘Although we've already seen that having the endorsement of the most extreme members of the Democratic Party does not ensure victory in the primaries.’
      • ‘Several nationalistic organisations pursue this agenda using extreme individuals from the Orthodox Church.’
      • ‘He was in fact not talking about any nominees he would block, but about the possibility that the Democrats would block more extreme candidates as they did in his first term.’
      • ‘He represented a family merchant business and was friendly with many of those who inspired the extreme phase of the revolution.’
      • ‘The case concerned protecting the emerging corporate order from the Court's more extreme members as much as it did resistance to the antislavery movement.’
      • ‘People who do not share the drive for rational thinking and control may be a threat and natural target for the more extreme members of this group.’
      radical, extremist, immoderate, exaggerated, intemperate, outrageous, unreasonable
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    4. 1.4Denoting or relating to a sport performed in a hazardous environment and involving great physical risk, such as parachuting or whitewater rafting.
      • ‘Now I understand, AT LAST, why I don't feel deeply enthusiastic about things like tennis or swimming - I need extreme sports.’
      • ‘The huge adrenalin rush of surfing titanic waves such as this is often compared with other extreme sports such as skydiving and off-piste snowboarding and skiing.’
      • ‘Unlike the century-and-a-half history of Australian Football, most extreme sports have only been invented within the last decade.’
      • ‘His free time Joro saves for extreme sports: snowboarding in the winter and kiteboarding in the summer.’
      • ‘Veterans of white-water rafting, mountain climbing and other extreme sports, the six women who assemble in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains think they are ready for anything.’
      • ‘Harry, who has already demonstrated a love of extreme sports in his pursuit of rugby, polo, skiing, abseiling and scuba diving, played in the lines position, the equivalent of a flanker.’
      • ‘As a youngster, the closest this judge ever came to extreme sports was a game of Frisbee golf that got entirely out of hand.’
      • ‘Thrill can come in the manner of extreme sports, daredevil challenges and risks that leave you feeling exhilarated.’
      • ‘‘Today, the sports calendar is overloaded with TV sports and extreme games,’ said Paulick.’
      • ‘Up to two million visitors a year are expected for a range of extreme sports and activities including scuba-diving, kayaking, snowboarding, climbing and even a form of sky-diving.’
      • ‘The last decade has seen a surge in popularity in extreme sports from rock climbing to snowboarding to mountain biking.’
      • ‘If you want to perform extreme sports yourself, paragliding from a windy hilltop in Salta is an option.’
      • ‘Why do people risk life and limb to participate in extreme sports?’
      • ‘Not that I'm not risk averse, but that's mostly about extreme sports - it was, a bit.’
      • ‘The Drome isn't a type of race; rather, it's a giant dome that houses multiple environments where extreme racing takes place.’
      • ‘Both Colin and team manager, Marco, are keen to recruit more extreme sports stars, especially those of the female variety.’
      • ‘In this context, extreme sports may reflect an atavistic desire to artificially inject risk into lives that seemed devoid of the excitement that only risk can provide.’
      • ‘Some 20 extreme sport enthusiasts took part in the action, all keen to make their name on the budding kitesurfing scene.’
      • ‘Fans of extreme sports games are truly blessed.’
      • ‘The game's levels aren't very large - they're certainly not the massive sprawling affairs seen in recent extreme sports games, and this is a real strike against the game.’
      dangerous, hazardous, risky, high-risk
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  • 2[attributive] Furthest from the center or a given point; outermost.

    ‘the extreme northwest of Scotland’
    • ‘These bases fell so swiftly that the US troops were able to attack Eniwetok atoll at the extreme north-west end of the island chain six weeks ahead of schedule.’
    • ‘The alignments indicate that Sir2p has a unique domain at its extreme N terminus.’
    • ‘For proper operation, each SCSI bus segment must be terminated at the two extreme ends of the segment.’
    • ‘This truncation shows that the extreme C terminus of the SPM domain is required for protein interactions.’
    • ‘ST.PETERSBURG, situated in extreme Northwest Russia and formerly known as Petrograd or Leningrad, is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe.’
    • ‘Shelter sheds can be seen (middle centre, on the beach) while on the extreme right are some of the beach cottages, used primarily by visitors.’
    • ‘This variety is largely confined to Texas, but is known from extreme northwest Louisiana.’
    • ‘The cold air in its rear reaches the extreme south during Friday night.’
    • ‘They occupied the extreme north-west corner of Brigantian territory comprising Cumberland and part of Westmorland.’
    • ‘At the extreme north-west corner of Ngargo Island, near a massive bomb-scar in the rocky cliff, lies a very curious wreck.’
    • ‘Wedged by Northern Ireland into the extreme northwest of the island, its back to the sea, Donegal is linked to the republic by a slender isthmus.’
    • ‘The model uses as data either the counts of genes in a syntenic block or the distance between extreme members of a block, or both.’
    • ‘It's not the positioning of the schools, but whoever decided on the amazingly stupid catchment areas that now means the schools are at the extreme ends of their catchment areas instead of the centre.’
    • ‘However, on the more level ground at the south-west and extreme north-west they are triple.’
    • ‘In each case it was not possible unambiguously to align portions of the extreme amino and carboxyl termini of the sequences.’
    furthest, farthest, furthermost, farthermost, farthest away, furthest away, very, utmost, outermost, most distant, aftermost, endmost, ultimate, final, last, terminal, remotest
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  • 1Either of two abstract things that are as different from each other as possible.

    ‘unbridled talk at one extreme and total silence at the other’
    • ‘Hunt's background represents the opposite extreme of Hanson in the ‘two nation’ model.’
    • ‘Orthal views of each pair of elements at the extremes of possible motion were recorded by photography or with a flatbed scanner.’
    • ‘These are the two opposite extremes in a continuum of scenarios that differ with regard to the relative contributions of horizontal and vertical transmission.’
    • ‘Two very different models lie at the opposite extremes of a spectrum of rate variation among lineages.’
    • ‘But we must not pose legality and expediency as opposite extremes.’
    • ‘Gendered conceptions of parental belonging and place identity represent two extremes on the continuum of possible identifications.’
    • ‘The two emotions generally did the same thing to you, but to different extremes.’
    • ‘Highly constrained genomes such as those of birds represent the opposite extreme, in which the subgenomic populace suffers under a totalitarian regime.’
    • ‘In performing the physical act of turning from one vast panel to the next, the viewer felt the moment of pause between the two antithetical extremes represented.’
    • ‘The two extremes represent opposite ways in which Christianity relates to modernity or postmodernity.’
    • ‘The director of the Honors College works with students at the opposite extreme of the spectrum.’
    • ‘Two extremes ranged against each other: that is hardly the best recipe for the region's security, but with no alternative voices being heard a solution is now further away than ever it has been.’
    • ‘In their schools, in their songs and on their streets, Protestants and Catholics are offered versions of history so different that at the extremes they produce different senses of right and wrong.’
    • ‘There are two different extremes among Christians regarding law.’
    • ‘Between the two extremes described every possible transition can easily be found at any place in the tissue.’
    • ‘The results presented below show that these two extremes produce very different patterns of polymorphism.’
    • ‘Most Americans, however, tend towards the opposite extreme, an almost exclusive preoccupation with self.’
    • ‘Figure 3 presents two particular regions, each at a different extreme of the distribution.’
    • ‘As with so many other issues in social research, a steady course needs to be steered between possible extremes.’
    • ‘The appalling practice of forced marriage represents the opposite extreme and that is why Government is taking tough action to eradicate it.’
    opposite, antithesis, contrary
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    1. 1.1The highest or most extreme degree of something.
      ‘extremes of temperature’
      • ‘The product is produced at temperature extremes exceeding 300 degrees below zero.’
      • ‘The exposed site is subject to weather extremes, therefore diving in this area is a special treat.’
      • ‘The two of them were closer than anything, they rarely fought recently and they would go to the extremes for each other.’
      • ‘Murder One falls somewhere in the middle of all these extremes.’
      • ‘Here the speculations begin to run wild, and things get absurd when the speculations contradict each other to the extreme.’
      • ‘So I said a little bit about how there are different extremes of feminism, and that no, I'm not at the end that hates men.’
      • ‘Canada is a country of extremes in terms of its size, climate, and geography.’
      • ‘Suddenly everything is confined to exposed planters, removed from the usual moisture and nutrient sources, and subject to climatic extremes.’
      • ‘His has been a career of excesses and extremes - two Majors victories to showcase his rare ability, but too many unsavoury moments.’
      • ‘The simulation was run using these groupings representing extremes of possible variation caused through modeling population dynamics.’
      • ‘Both Harvey and Sarah were daring each other into the extremes.’
      • ‘While gaining a more exciting life, she would be hungry much of the time, would lack veterinary care, and would be subject to weather extremes and miscellaneous outdoor dangers.’
      • ‘In Strangers to Ourselves, Timothy Wilson offers an assessment of the human unconscious that is very different from these extremes.’
      • ‘Featuring the latest in DX9 shader technology, Auto Assault will represent the extreme of what is possible on today's graphics cards.’
      • ‘And from that, we're going to move onto extremes of a different kind.’
      • ‘Her moods were becoming all extremes, with no middle ground.’
      • ‘And it's a good job too, because we just can't cope, even with minor extremes of weather.’
      • ‘This large area south of Russia and bordering China is subject to great extremes of climate.’
      • ‘And of course then they will go to different extremes than we would, they may go to a shaman, they may go to a faith healer looking for a way through this and to resolve the issue.’
      • ‘I assume the extremes of the different genres represented here can be reflected in what goes on in the mind of the madman in the film.’
      limit, extremity, greatest degree, highest degree, maximum, height, high, low
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    2. 1.2A very severe or serious act.
      ‘he was unwilling to go to the extreme of civil war’
      • ‘The other extreme of course, which is presupposed in the above - is a retreat to solipsism, and thereby a denial of the other.’
      • ‘These three plays are just a few examples of the different extremes he was capable of.’
      • ‘I also made it clear here: how religion is used by the state, in both cases and to different methods and extremes, as a method or tool of nationalism and patriotism, and as a method of control.’
      • ‘I have gone to the extreme in terms of freedom of speech.’
      • ‘I took this person's behavior (something he hides from his friends and maybe from himself) and pushed it to the furthest extreme I could.’
      • ‘One can only deplore of course the barbarous extremes that some of this antipathy has taken.’
      • ‘Instead, it has said players are not willing to go to the extremes proposed by owners.’
      • ‘So it's quite an extreme in terms of how we are processing visas.’
  • 2Logic
    The subject or predicate in a proposition, or the major or minor term in a syllogism (as contrasted with the middle term)

    • ‘There is a potential misuse of the power function under the logical extreme when the null hypothesis is true.’
    • ‘This idea has lately been taken to its logical extreme: Why not cut out the middleman and just let target customers make their own ads?’


  • extremes meet

    • proverb Opposite extremes have much in common.

      • ‘In the recesses of the Middle East where extremes meet, dismay at the loss of innocent lives was tempered with happier emotions ranging from quiet satisfaction to open celebration.’
      • ‘Genovese is, it should be said, an illuminating example of the way in which left-wing and right-wing extremes meet in a love of tyranny and a hatred of freedom.’
      • ‘This is a place of ambivalence, a place where extremes meet.’
      • ‘Ironically enough, in Gramsci ‘the extremes meet,’ confirming the overlapping lineage of both left and right ideologies.’
      • ‘John and Yoko were people whose fantastic freedom became - where extremes meet - a fantastic prison.’
  • go (or take something) to extremes

    • Take an extreme course of action; do something to an extreme degree.

      ‘we may go to extremes to find peace and quiet’
      • ‘If you are the sort of person who tends to take things to extremes, then Christmas can be a time of chronic over-indulgence.’
      • ‘We're having fun with this, taking things to extremes.’
      • ‘Bodybuilders often have the mistaken belief that they must take their diets to extremes to take their physiques to extremes.’
      • ‘Other potential ethical conflicts could take this issue to extremes.’
      • ‘I have started taking things to extremes lately, however.’
      • ‘Connie however, seemed to take the assignment to extremes.’
      • ‘A lot of guys take the overload approach to extremes.’
      • ‘For a country, encouraging export sales to create jobs when taken to extremes could seriously lower regional productivity and real income.’
      • ‘This efficiency wage argument has merit, but taken to extremes it could cause major problems.’
      • ‘But this system seems to be taking it to extremes.’
      go over the top, go to extremes, go overboard, not know when to stop
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  • in the extreme

    • To an extreme degree.

      ‘the reasoning was convoluted in the extreme’
      • ‘That is, according to those former trustees, disingenuous in the extreme.’
      • ‘His initial reaction to my questions is cautious in the extreme.’
      • ‘Yet the demands on the players was intense in the extreme and they were an exhausted bunch by the end.’
      • ‘The skiing is exhilarating in the extreme, but the main attraction remains the mountains themselves.’
      • ‘But the bigger picture of discord and trouble in the camp is worrying in the extreme.’
      • ‘Hearing the story, and about the dead bodies on the platforms, is sobering in the extreme.’
      • ‘I have found this whole experience very frightening and worrying in the extreme.’
      • ‘The arguments against such a database are, with one exception, weak in the extreme.’
      • ‘Yesterday he turned up, looking confused in the extreme and asking if I was Dr. Bird.’
      • ‘It is irritating in the extreme to be so stereotypically predictable.’


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin extremus outermost, utmost superlative of exterus outer.