Pe·nul·ti·mate: almost last.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

This is one of those words I learned and said to myself, wow, this is nonintuitive, people must get this wrong all the time.

And they do.

But the dictionary is pretty clear on the origin:

late 17th century: from Latin paenultimus, from paene ‘almost’ + ultimus ‘last’

And the English Usage Stack Exchange offers a couple of useful variations to impress people at cocktail parties when there are again cocktail parties:

antepenultimate —third before last, or the one before the penultimate. As an alternative: propenultimate.

propreantepenultimate —(yeegads!) four before the end.

At any rate, our days here are coming to a close, so this applies.