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From Old English ūtemest, from Proto-Germanic *ūt (out) + the superlative suffix *-umistaz, stem ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *úd (upwards, away). The suffix *-umistaz was a compound suffix, created from the rarer comparative suffix *-umô (as in Old English fruma) + the regular superlative suffix *-istaz (English -est); *-umô in turn is from Proto-Indo-European *-mHo-.

Later the Old English suffix complex -(u)m-est was conflated with the word most through folk etymology, so that the word is now interpreted as out +‎ -most.


  • (UK)
  • (US)
    • enPR: ŭt'mōst
    • IPA(key): /ˈʌt.moʊ̯st/, [ˈʌt-], [ˈʌʔ-]
  • (file)


utmost (not comparable)

  1. Situated at the most distant limit; farthest.
    the utmost limits of the land;  the utmost extent of human knowledge
  2. The most extreme; ultimate; greatest.
    • c. 1608–1609, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Coriolanus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
      Where he shall answer by a lawful form, In peace to his utmost peril.
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 236d.
      Indeed at this very moment he's slipped away with the utmost cunning into a form that's most perplexing to investigate.
    the utmost assiduity;  the utmost harmony;  the utmost misery or happiness

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utmost (countable and uncountable, plural utmosts)

  1. Maximum; greatest possible amount or quantity.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 19, in The China Governess[1]:
      Meanwhile Nanny Broome was recovering from her initial panic and seemed anxious to make up for any kudos she might have lost, by exerting her personality to the utmost. She took the policeman's helmet and placed it on a chair, and unfolded his tunic to shake it and fold it up again for him.