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Borrowed from French dernier, a contraction of derrenier, from Old French derrain (final, last) (by analogy with premier), from Vulgar Latin *dēretrānus, from Latin (from, away from) + retrō (back; backwards; behind) + -ānus (suffix meaning ‘of or pertaining to’).



dernier (not comparable)

  1. (dated) Final, last.
    • 1617, [John Fletcher], George, Duke of Buckingham [i.e., George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham], “The Chances: A Comedy; as It is Acted at the Theatre-Royal. By His Grace the Duke of Buckingham, Author of The Rehearsal”, in Two Plays Written by His Grace George Late Duke of Buckingham: viz. I. The Rehearsal; to which is Added the Key to It. And, II. The Chances. Being All that His Grace Ever Publish’d. Corrected from the Errors of Former Editions, London: Printed by J. Darby for M. P. and sold by A. Bettesworth [], and F. Clay [], published 1723, →OCLC, act V, scene iii, page 157:
      Then as I'm a Chriſtian, I ſuſpect we have both been equally involv'd in the misfortune of a Miſtake. Sir, I am in the dernier Confuſion to avow, that tho my Daughter Conſtantia has been liable to ſeveral Addreſſes; yet ſhe never has had the Honour to be produc'd to his Grace.
    • 1676, author uncertain, attributed to Nicholas Carey or Denzil Holles, 1st Baron Holles, Some Considerations upon the Question, whether the Parliament is Dissolved by It’s Prorogation for 15 Months?, [s.l.]: [s.n.], →OCLC, section II, page 7:
      That thoſe laws of Ed[ward] 3 for Annual Parliaments are pro bono publico [for the public good], and of the greateſt concern to the Nation, beſides they are made concerning the higheſt Court of Judicature, of the Dernier Reſort, and which regulates and keeps all the reſt in order, needs not a proof to any reaſonable man.
    • 1788 June, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Mr. Sheridan’s Speech, on Summing Up the Evidence on the Second, or Begum Charge against Warren Hastings, Esq., Delivered before the High Court of Parliament, June 1788”, in Select Speeches, Forensick and Parliamentary, with Prefatory Remarks by N[athaniel] Chapman, M.D., volume I, [Philadelphia, Pa.]: Published by Hopkins and Earle, [], published 1808, →OCLC, page 474:
      The Begums' ministers, on the contrary, to extort from them the disclosure of the place which concealed the treasures, were, [] after being fettered and imprisoned, led out on to a scaffold, and this array of terrours proving unavailing, the meek tempered Middleton, as a dernier resort, menaced them with a confinement in the fortress of Chunargar. Thus, my lords, was a British garrison made the climax of cruelties!
    • 1853 October 1, “Art. I. State of Lunacy in England.”, in Forbes Winslow, editor, The Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Pathology, volume VI, number XXIV, London: John Churchill, [], →OCLC, pages 475–476:
      [T]he attention of the Board in New-street, Spring-gardens, was in vain called to the petinacious obstinacy of these justices, until, wearied with official correspondence, and "having no reasonable expectation," they state, "that any steps would be taken by the committee of visiting justices to the remedy of the manifest defects," upon which they had animadverted, they inform us that they had recourse to the dernier ressort—an appeal to the Secretary of State []
    • 1913, Edward [Tyas] Cook, “Foreign Travel: Egypt and Greece (1849–1850)”, in The Life of Florence Nightingale [] In Two Volumes, volumes I (1820–1861), London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, [], →OCLC, page 84:
      In the autumn of 1849 Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge, who were to spend some months in the East, again proposed that Miss [Florence] Nightingale should travel with them, and again the offer was gladly accepted. Her sister was delighted. [] The sister reported to her friends that "Flo had taken tea with the Bunsens to receive the dernier mot [last word] on Egyptology," and that she was going out "laden with learned books."
    • 2009, Nicholas Royle, “Last”, in In Memory of Jacques Derrida, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, →ISBN, page 186:
      And of course what was there possibly to be said that hadn't already been said about the dernier mot or the last word or the afterword or postscript or any number of other equivalent terms, in an interminable logic of the supplement, by Jacques Derrida himself?

Usage notes[edit]

The word often appears in the term dernier resort or (in French) dernier ressort (literally “last resort”), meaning the final court or authority to which a legal matter can be appealed.

Related terms[edit]





From a contraction of earlier derrenier, a derivation of Old French derrain (through analogy with premier), itself derived from Vulgar Latin *dēretrānus, from Latin + retrō + -ānus.


  • IPA(key): /dɛʁ.nje/, (in liaison) /dɛʁ.njɛ.ʁ‿/, /dɛʁ.nje.ʁ‿/
  • (file)


dernier (feminine dernière, masculine plural derniers, feminine plural dernières)

  1. last
    Il est parti le mois dernier.
    He left last month.
    Je n’ai parlé qu’une fois avec elle depuis l’année dernière.
    I haven't spoken with her a single time since last year.
  2. latest (most recent)
    J’espère que les dernières mises à jour vont nous permettre d’achever le projet à temps.
    I hope that the latest updates allow us to complete the project on time.
  3. latter


Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]