The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Ultimate Usage of "Penultimate"

A common language peeve - certainly one shared by all my relatives - is misuse of penultimate to mean ultimate. Which is bizarre, since, of course, it means "just short of ultimate," or, more literally, "next to last." But somehow the illiterates snuck in and decided that if ultimate is good, penultimate must be better.

Anyway, a review of the latest Lexus in the New York Times uses it perfectly:
The Lexus IS is like the perennial A student who has yet to declare a major. The car shows perfection in individual disciplines. Its creators have done their homework assignments well. But the better-rounded BMW remains the class valedictorian.

INSIDE TRACK: The penultimate driving machine.


Blogger steve said...

Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth

Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical.
It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words.

9:16 AM


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