Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
January 10th, 2015
Episode 72 of 689 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 10, 2015 is: ne plus ultra \nay-plus-UL-truh\ noun 1 : the highest point capable of being attained : acme 2 : the most profound degree of a quality or state Examples: "Along with the relatively highbrow Stepbrothers, [Dumb and Dumber]'s the ne plus ultra of moron slapstick, the film against which all cretinous child-men assaults on taste must be measured." David Edelstein, Vulture, November 14, 2014 "Made in tumult and released to a triumph unprecedented in Hollywood's history, 'Gone With the Wind' remains to many people the ne plus ultra of American popular moviemaking." Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2014 Did you know? It's the height, the zenith, the ultimate, the crown, the pinnacle. It's the peak, the summit, the crest, the high-water mark. All these expressions, of course, mean "the highest point attainable." But ne plus ultra may top them all when it comes to expressing in a sophisticated way that something is the pink of perfection. It is said that the term's predecessor, non plus ultra, was inscribed on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar, which marked the western end of the classical world. The phrase served as a warning: "(Let there) not (be) more (sailing) beyond." The New Latin version ne plus ultra, meaning "(go) no more beyond," found its way into English in the 1630s.