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.
March 25th, 2015
Episode 146 of 755 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 25, 2015 is: ulterior \ul-TEER-ee-er\ adjective 1 a : lying farther away : more remote b : situated on the farther side 2 : going beyond what is openly said or shown Examples: "While their campaign does shed light on an important issue, their good intentions are undercut by their ulterior motive, which is to make a profit." Robert Lees, The Highlander (University of California-Riverside), February 10, 2015 "Dreyer describes Seuss's personal collection of paintings and sculptures as 'secret art.' Geisel literally kept them in the closet and his widow, Audrey Geisel, has never sold an original Seuss. She authorized high-quality lithograph prints so the public can see the ulterior side of her late husband." Alexandria (Virginia) Times, December 6, 2011 Did you know? Although now usually hitched to the front of the noun motive to refer to a hidden need or desire that inspires action, ulterior began its career as an adjective in the mid-17th century describing something occurring at a subsequent time. By the early 18th century it was being used to mean both "more distant" (literally and figuratively) and "situated on the farther side." The "hidden" sense with which were most familiar today followed quickly after those, with the word modifying nouns like purpose, design, and consequence. Ulterior comes directly from the Latin word for "farther" or "further," itself assumed to be the comparative form of ulter, meaning "situated beyond."