a. Being last in a series, process, or progression: "As the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court occupies a central place in our scheme of government" (Richard A. Epstein). See Synonyms at last1.
b. Eventual: hoped for ultimate victory.
2. Fundamental; elemental: an ultimate truth.
a. Of the greatest possible size or significance; maximum: the ultimate act of courage.
b. Representing or exhibiting the greatest possible development or sophistication: the ultimate bicycle.
c. Utmost; extreme: the ultimate insult.
1. The greatest extreme; the maximum: actions that represented the ultimate in political expediency.
2. also Ultimate A game played on a field by two teams of seven players each, the object being to gain possession of a flying disc by catching it and throwing it to a teammate, advancing the disc down the field until it is caught in the opponent's end zone. Players cannot run while holding the disc, and the game is self-officiated.
[Latin ultimātus, past participle of ultimāre, to come to an end, from ultimus, last, superlative of *ulter, on the other side; see al-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus