n. pl. max·i·mums or max·i·ma (-mə)
a. The greatest possible quantity or degree.
b. The greatest quantity or degree reached or recorded; the upper limit of variation.
c. The time or period during which the highest point or degree is attained.
2. An upper limit permitted by law or other authority.
a. The moment when a variable star is most brilliant.
b. The magnitude of the star at such a moment.
a. The greatest value assumed by a function over a given interval.
b. The largest number in a set.
1. Having or being the greatest quantity or the highest degree that has been or can be attained: maximum temperature.
2. Of, relating to, or making up a maximum: a maximum number in a series.
[Latin, from neuter of maximus, greatest; see meg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.