AskDefine | Define penult

Dictionary Definition

penult n : the next to last syllable in a word [syn: penultima, penultimate]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈpinɐlt/
  • /"pinVlt/


  1. The next-to-last syllable of a word.
  2. The next to the last in a series.

Extensive Definition

In linguistics, the penult is the penultimate syllable of a word; that is, the second-to-last syllable. For example, the main stress falls on the penult in such English words as banána, and Mississíppi. The penult follows the antepenult and precedes the ultimate syllable. These terms are used in the study of languages in which the lexical stress of a word changes considerably depending on the case or declension of the word (e.g. Ancient Greek), and sometimes it is used in the discussion of lexical stress of poetry.
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