1. next to the last: the penultimate scene of the play.
2. of or pertaining to a penult.
1. a penult.
I forced myself to picture the last moments. The penultimate breath. A final sigh. And yet. It was always followed by another.
— Nicole Krauss , The History of Love , 2005
It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth– penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words…
— Joseph Campbell , The Power of Myth , 1988
Penultimate combines a variation on the Latin paene meaning “almost” with ultimus meaning “final.” It entered English in the mid-1500s.