Definition of maximum in US English:



  • 1attributive As great, high, or intense as possible or permitted.

    ‘the vehicle's maximum speed’
    ‘a maximum penalty of ten years' imprisonment’
    • ‘In any business transaction both sides want to pay as little as possible for the maximum possible return.’
    • ‘Soon, everyone attains the maximum level of comfort achievable - until the next stop where a passenger gets off.’
    • ‘These solutions allow a company's assets to realize the maximum possible return on investment.’
    • ‘By doing this, you are pushing the house - getting a maximum return from a minimum investment!’
    • ‘It lists options for rationing, such as increasing the price of petrol or putting a limit on the maximum amount motorists can buy.’
    • ‘Of course we're in business, but we're not in the business of making a maximum amount of profit regardless of our professional obligations.’
    • ‘You need to have specialized equipment, hot-water suits, so the divers can spend the maximum amount of time in the water.’
    • ‘Under this plan, the average longevity of a genus is halfway between the minimum and the maximum possible.’
    • ‘We will have maximum amounts of anti-virals, but there are some things people aren't talking about.’
    • ‘And I suppose the perfect poem became something that had to contain the maximum amount of control - and of suffering.’
    • ‘Although the light beam is traveling toward us at the maximum speed possible, it cannot keep up with the stretching of space.’
    • ‘The ritual a soldier goes through to fill a duffle with the maximum amount of gear is a wrestling match.’
    • ‘Advisers urge families to pay in the maximum amount.’
    • ‘Cleaners could alert the front desk as soon as a room is ready - allowing the hotel the maximum amount of time to sell that room to a customer.’
    • ‘And this maximum possible speed is the velocity of light.’
    • ‘Both demand a maximum amount of creativity from those on the show.’
    • ‘‘We wanted to support the market and gave them the maximum amount of money we could,’ she explained.’
    • ‘The Act further provided for a maximum penalty of ten years if the defendant caused great bodily injury and life imprisonment if the defendant caused death.’
    • ‘However, he stressed that even with that it would appear that whoever is responsible is going out of their way to commit the maximum amount of damage.’
    • ‘This is a man who routinely plays the bare minimum 15 events on the PGA Tour so that he can spend the maximum amount of time at home with his wife and three children.’
    greatest, highest, biggest, largest, top, topmost, most, utmost, supreme, maximal, paramount, extreme
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    1. 1.1 Denoting the greatest or highest point or amount attained.
      ‘the maximum depth of the pool is 6 feet’


  • 1The greatest or highest amount possible or attained.

    ‘the school takes a maximum of 32 students’
    ‘production levels are near their maximum’
    • ‘It can boost our body's temperature to the maximum to coincide with the demands of the day.’
    • ‘It is precisely in these circumstances that students need to engage their cognitive systems to the maximum.’
    • ‘Once found, he jammed his earphones in and cranked up the volume to the maximum.’
    • ‘Of that amount, a maximum of 30 percent may be covered by new production.’
    • ‘Whilst farmers now produce to the maximum - 18m tons - the EU consumes 12.5m tons a year.’
    • ‘In the meantime we will all be carrying on our activities to the maximum possible within the law.’
    • ‘The student has performed to the maximum of their ability and has been rewarded accordingly.’
    • ‘The last passenger must have deafened himself by turning the volume up to the maximum!’
    • ‘Thus one does not end up paying undue interest and also makes use of the credit facility to the maximum.’
    • ‘It is a very unusual piece of theatre in the sense that it extends the boundaries and possibilities of theatre to the maximum.’
    • ‘It has been a difficult season for Fletcher, one in which his mettle has been tested to the maximum.’
    • ‘However, the country has never managed to use the quota to the maximum.’
    • ‘Set the pulleys at shoulder height, and load up the weight stacks to the maximum.’
    • ‘Each of these three ranges is divided by 19 to obtain 20 equally divided values from the minimum to the maximum.’
    • ‘The enrollment increased to the maximum of 40 children per class within just a few weeks.’
    • ‘Ulysses circles the Sun in just over six years, which is roughly the time it takes the Sun to go from the minimum to the maximum of its activity cycle.’
    • ‘The requirement to resign was replaced by the sanction of a fine to the maximum permitted under the regulations.’
    • ‘Efficiency is defined as the ratio of the observed level of attainment of a goal to the maximum that could have been achieved with the observed resources.’
    • ‘It is common for families to run themselves up to the maximum on a stack of different cards.’
    • ‘They will hope to recoup it, and then some, by exploiting their recruit to the maximum.’
    upper limit, limit, utmost, uttermost, greatest, most, extreme, extremity, peak, height, ceiling, top, summit, pinnacle, crest, apex, vertex, apogee, acme, zenith
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    1. 1.1 A maximum permitted prison sentence for an offense.
      ‘an offense that carries a maximum of 14 years’
      • ‘These offences will carry a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine.’
      • ‘A trial will now take place at Swindon Magistrates' Court, where they have the power to sentence people to a maximum of 12 months imprisonment.’
      • ‘Anyone (even a member of the family) that hampers an autopsy should face a sentence of a maximum of nine months in prison.’
      • ‘If found guilty, he could be sentenced to a maximum of sixteen months in jail.’
      • ‘A life sentence generally means a maximum of 25 years in jail.’


  • At the most.

    ‘it has a length of 4 feet maximum’
    • ‘Since then only a few scientists, scholars or art historians per day were allowed in for several hours maximum.’
    • ‘Of course, this was supposed to be five days maximum and we're into day eight and still no clear sign of when this is going to wrap up.’
    • ‘They said the whole assessment process was supposed to take nine months maximum and people were left waiting years by the social workers.’
    • ‘That's the amendment that keeps a president from being in office for more than two terms - eight years maximum.’
    • ‘We'll be there for maybe four, five weeks maximum, and we've had to spend nearly probably seven weeks all up getting there and getting back again on the ship.’


Mid 17th century (as a noun): from modern Latin, neuter (used as a noun) of the Latin adjective maximus, superlative of magnus ‘great’. The adjectival use dates from the early 19th century.