Definition of ultimate in US English:



  • 1Being or happening at the end of a process; final.

    ‘their ultimate aim was to force his resignation’
    • ‘The individual who can take setbacks as well as frustration in stride and not lose sight of the ultimate objective in the process is a person to keep an eye on - destined to go places.’
    • ‘Through this process, ultimate uniformization threatens to spread everywhere.’
    • ‘The final and ultimate breakthrough took place, and he was able to teach and work with sentient beings without any inhibition.’
    • ‘The ultimate aim of understanding deformation processes is to incorporate them into interpretations of earth theology.’
    • ‘Some councillors stressed that the decision was not final and the ultimate decision would rest with tenants themselves when a ballot took place.’
    • ‘I think it does a disservice to this entire process and to the ultimate point here, which is to get a president we all can accept as the legitimate president of the United States.’
    • ‘It is important to both the engagement process and to the ultimate success of counseling that the adolescent endorse an individualized rationale for counseling.’
    • ‘In conclusion, the ultimate aim of economic development will reflect a blended approach from several different players.’
    • ‘The combine reports are the first step in the evaluation process, not the ultimate analysis.’
    • ‘While thematically they rail against these trappings, the whole album sounds like a slow process of ultimate defeat, the band seemingly unable to shake the ties they deride.’
    • ‘The ultimate decision could lie with the ABA and the lottery funding and sponsorship deals they can come up with.’
    • ‘Those who ask from science a final argument, an ultimate proof, an unassailable position from which the issue of God may be decided will always be disappointed.’
    • ‘The company initiated a project of awareness raising, with the ultimate aim of seeing cleaner manufacturing processes being implemented.’
    • ‘And at the end of it all comes the final, the ultimate audit when our lives hang in the balance before we are consigned to eternal reward, or to the other place, based on the audit of how we lived our lives.’
    • ‘It is on this final dive that the ultimate clue is revealed.’
    • ‘Politics is about compromise, but ultimately the political process can shape and develop policy before the ultimate decision is formulated and presented by government.’
    • ‘Drought leads to water deficit in the leaf tissue, which affects many physiological processes and can have ultimate consequences for plant growth and survival.’
    • ‘‘The ultimate aim of having universal suffrage in our democratic development process will not change,’ Tung said.’
    • ‘Critics claim that because conventional fuels are needed in the production and refining process, the ultimate benefit of biofuels to the environment is not clear-cut.’
    • ‘The ultimate end of this process is extinction, not evolutionary progress.’
    eventual, last, final, concluding, conclusive, terminal, end, endmost, furthest
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    1. 1.1 Being the best or most extreme example of its kind.
      ‘the ultimate accolade’
      • ‘Savonarola becomes the ultimate figure of ambivalence.’
      • ‘In the 1930s, when the very best American movie serials were made, the sci-fi ones were the ultimate examples of the cliffhanger.’
      • ‘The final step and the ultimate convenience was the design of stereos that wouldn't work when removed from the car.’
      • ‘Flag-burning is perhaps the ultimate example of political speech (second only I think to burning yourself).’
      • ‘Standing at 15,2 hands, the three-year-old was awarded the ultimate accolade and crowned supreme champion of the show.’
      • ‘The Suprematists took the art of painting and porcelain making to the ultimate extreme of complete abstraction, using the geometrical forms of the square, circle and cross.’
      • ‘The millions turned to billions as the technology firm became a member of the prestigious FTSE 100, the ultimate accolade in the business community.’
      • ‘Football is the ultimate team sport; each player must execute his responsibilities for a play to succeed.’
      • ‘His justification for considering himself the ultimate team player yet eschewing the notion of collective responsibility in public forums is that he is from another era.’
      • ‘This final photograph shows the ultimate London address.’
      • ‘I suppose paintings of TV characters might be an example of ultimate postmodernism - producing art by painting from a television screen.’
      • ‘The ultimate example of his design ideal was the brilliant and elegantly simple geodesic dome.’
      • ‘However, this is the ultimate example of a self-regulatory agreement between the interested parties with little more than ratification by Congress.’
      • ‘Unless a listener is devoted to this sort of experimentation in music this record will appear to be incomprehensible- and held as an example of ultimate pretension.’
      • ‘The ultimate garbage man actually scored more points than he grabbed rebounds for the first time this season.’
      • ‘The ultimate example of combining technology, process change and competitive stimulus is Wal-Mart, of course.’
      • ‘But the ultimate New Zealand accolade, the sign of respect and affection, is to be known universally by your first name.’
      • ‘Rowing is called the ultimate team sport because going fast requires everyone's complete commitment to the crew.’
      • ‘It was the ultimate example of style trumping substance and it makes me embarrassed for my adopted state.’
      • ‘The year 2001 sees four red, four white and three sparkling wines being given the ultimate accolade making them the most sought-after wines in the country.’
      • ‘Those were the ultimate examples in American history of a corporate trade show and of the political parties being captives of the special interests.’
      • ‘Incidentally, 1993 was also the last season that a Canadian team won hockey's ultimate prize, when Montreal claimed the cup.’
      best, ideal, greatest, supreme, paramount, superlative, highest, unsurpassed, unrivalled, topmost, utmost, optimum, quintessential
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    2. 1.2 Basic or fundamental.
      ‘the ultimate constituents of anything that exists are atoms’
      • ‘Names are the ultimate constituents of language.’
      • ‘To use Thomas Sowell's phrase, people are the ultimate resource.’
      • ‘What are the ultimate constituents of matter the most elementary of elementary particles?’
      • ‘The ultimate, or most basic, scientific theory is physics.’
      • ‘I marvel at people who, so prepared for everything in life, can discover the ultimate needs of anything just by looking at it;’
      • ‘Many scholastic and Cartesian thinkers had assumed substances to be the ultimate constituents of reality, and, as such, self-dependent.’
      • ‘Arguably the prime, indeed ultimate, determinant of land value in modern society is its permitted or permissible use.’
      • ‘Social atomism sees individual people as the fundamental particles, autonomous ultimate units in full charge of their destiny, empowered to make contracts freely.’
      fundamental, basic, primary, prime, elementary, elemental, absolute, actual, definitive, central, key, crucial, vital, essential, pivotal
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    3. 1.3Physics Denoting the maximum possible strength or resistance beyond which an object breaks.
      • ‘These piles are loaded to their ultimate capacity.’
      • ‘Also it can be seen that the smaller diameter raft has reached to its ultimate capacity at smaller settlement than that of the raft of larger diameter.’
      • ‘A standard LENTON coupler is a mechanical taper threaded splice that develops the minimum specified ultimate strength of the rebar being spliced.’
      • ‘It responds to heat treatment on the improved permanent set stress and ultimate strength with some loss of elongation.’
      • ‘From the outset, the development of Stansted Airport should be planned so as to be capable of providing an ultimate capacity equivalent to that which can be accommodated on the airport's single runway.’
      • ‘Their ultimate size depends on their chemical composition; materials that are more soluble in the atmosphere grow faster and bigger.’
      • ‘After the initial impacts, the most heavily loaded columns were probably near, but not over, their ultimate capacities.’


  • 1the ultimateThe best achievable or imaginable of its kind.

    ‘the ultimate in decorative luxury’
    • ‘But for the ultimate in picnic destinations, we have to go off the beaten track - where there probably aren't any ‘facilities’.’
    • ‘Were I one of the financially blessed, feeling the need for the ultimate in grande luxe quiet and stroking, I'd be booking the next long weekend right now.’
    • ‘The quintessence of luxury, based upon a range of cashmere and guanashina, the main collection for this winter is an irresistible invitation to enjoy the ultimate in refined elegance.’
    • ‘For the ultimate in comfort, opt for clothing made of polypropylene.’
    • ‘How this makes Social Security less workable or efficient is difficult for me to understand since Social Security is the ultimate in portability.’
    • ‘I figured that finishing a marathon was the ultimate in human achievement.’
    • ‘It exudes elegance, offers modern chic décor and provides the ultimate in comfort and luxury for the discerning.’
    • ‘Served with a lemon wedge and creamy tartar sauce, it's the ultimate in comfort food.’
    • ‘In the wrapper, the company claims that it is ‘the finest blade known to science and will give the ultimate in shaving smoothness.’’
    • ‘Now, this is very clever technology, and I can see where long distance runners, hikers, or even wait staff would have a need for a shoe that provides the ultimate in comfort in every step.’
    • ‘She was, of course, overjoyed that the film she had worked on was achieving the ultimate in mainstream international recognition.’
    • ‘Harry was sitting on our laps, one after the other in an endless pursuit for the ultimate in feline comfort, purring loudly.’
    • ‘Dusted with powdered sugar, it might well be the ultimate in comfort food, but the dark chocolate ganache lends a bit of sophistication.’
    • ‘With all that physical toiling in the fresh air one could be forgiven for imagining farming was the ultimate in healthy occupations.’
    • ‘They have even achieved the ultimate in cynicism by insisting that the freedom of consumer choice and the freedom of the individual are one and the same thing.’
    • ‘And while it may be done in the name of making Toronto a world-class city, consider the food regulations passed in Paris, the ultimate in world-class cities.’
    • ‘With one sail, one halyard, one sheet, and two winches, the Nonsuch 30 is the ultimate in uncomplicated sailing.’
    • ‘Made out of teak or rosewood, ornamental furniture is characterised by intricate carvings and promise the ultimate in comfort and style.’
    • ‘Overt misbehavior is the ultimate in narcissism.’
    • ‘One is the ultimate fantasy, the other the ultimate in human achievement.’
    utmost, optimum, last word, very limit, height, epitome, peak, pinnacle, acme, apex, apogee, zenith, culmination, perfection, nonpareil, extreme, extremity
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  • 2A final or fundamental fact or principle.

    • ‘That is the fate Yajnavalkya warns Gargi of when she persists in questioning him about the nature of the ultimate.’
    • ‘Mahatma Gandhi, a student of the Bhagavadgira, held that good is good, evil is evil, without making reference to the ultimate.’
    • ‘The day draws nearer when a power greater than the ultimate shall arise.’
    • ‘Indian philosophy accepts only intuition as the method through which the ultimate can be known.’
    • ‘But that doesn't diminish its status as an ultimate in technology.’
    • ‘He derived his propositional view of reality and his ‘pluralism without ultimates ' from classical sources and his own extended critical reflections on Alexander, Hegel, and Marx, particularly the latter.’
    • ‘Thus, passed away ten long years in his search for the ultimate.’
    • ‘We also have not provided any content for our merely formal concept of the ultimate.’
    • ‘If you can do that then you can think about going down to where you have only a single electron and a single photon, That's the ultimate.’
  • 3North American

    • ‘I also coordinate regular pickup games of ultimate.’
    • ‘Since Ultimate is a club sport, it does not have some of the restrictions of a varsity sport.’
    • ‘Players battle for position in a game of Ultimate.’
    • ‘He played ultimate casually for about a year.’
    • ‘The first games of Ultimate were played on a paved parking lot.’
    • ‘If you can throw a disc but you haven't played Ultimate, then you don't know what you're missing.’
    • ‘Kids are running around playing ultimate.’
    • ‘Ultimate is a non-contact disc sport.’
    • ‘Throwing a backhand well can be difficult in a competitive game of Ultimate.’
    • ‘Janin's brother and father have both played Ultimate for the University of Oregon.’


Mid 17th century: from late Latin ultimatus, past participle of ultimare ‘come to an end’.