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 ©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.