Latter Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Latter is occasionally a confusing word to use. What does latter mean, and how can you use it in the correct context in your everyday life?

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Some words in the English language don’t seem to have a set-in-stone definition but still carry a lot of meaning. One of these words is latter — its purpose is a bit confusing, but it’s still a helpful word for distinguishing between two items. 

If you want a good answer about what the word latter means, read on! This is the definition of latter, its etymological origins, and how to use it in the proper contexts in your day-to-day conversations! 

What Does Latter Mean?

Latter (lat-ter) is a word that means “coming or happening near the end of a process, activity, series, or life.” In almost every case, the latter is an adjective primarily used to help describe the back half of something. 

Latter is also used to describe events that occurred more recently or nearer to the end of their duration. For example, if something happened more recently, it will often be described as latter. That would look like someone representing the latter years or latter half of the year in a sentence. 

If comparing things in a group, the latter is the last item, while the former is the first item. For example, if you wanted to choose the second option out of two, you could say that you would like to choose the latter. This is a simple, effective way to detail what you want in a situation where you have to choose from two items or groups of subjects. 

Some popular synonyms and related words for latter include: 

  • Recent
  • Closing
  • Final
  • Following
  • Lag
  • Last
  • Modern
  • Second
  • Terminal
  • Eventual
  • Hindmost
  • Last-mentioned
  • Later
  • Rearmost

Where Does the Word Latter Come From?

The online etymological dictionary points to the Old English lætra, the comparative of læt, which is Old English for our words for “late” or “slower.” The word latter comes primarily from Indo-European roots. As time went on, the word transitioned meaning into the Middle English latt, and around the 12th century, the word started to be used as we know it today. 

From the 1550s to the latter half of the 17th century, the word latter entered everyday English, as more people used and understood it. Latter entered the common vernacular for people worldwide who spoke the English language. 

What Contexts Is Latter Usually Used In?

Latter is used in many different contexts. When used in the context of time, the word defines the end of something, like the “latter part of the century,” “the latter half of the week,” or “the latter part of a period of time.” 

When used to specify an option among other options, latter can be used to describe a “latter point,” “latter option,” “latter category,” or “latter cases.” 

When used to describe a specific item or subject, it details which part of the subject it is referring to, like the “latter part of a film,” “latter days of human progress,” or “latter times.” 

The word latter can be used in a variety of contexts. All that matters is that you use it appropriately to attribute meaning to the back half or end of a specific thing. 

Example Sentences Using Latter

Context can help provide clarity when a term is as confusing as latter. Here are some example sentences that use the word latter. Take some time to read through and understand these sentences! 

  • One look at her Facebook showed that Sarah Ferry had become just a shadow of her former self in her latter days. 
  • The Dutch subjects loved the novel about John and the other latter heroes in their political movement. 
  • The New York Times claimed that Princeton University was much better off in the present time than it was in the latter half of the previous decade. 
  • While he sat in the cabin of the hovercraft, Dick was talking about how the American heritage in the latter part of the past century started to look more like Australia than America. 
  • In the latter half of the semester, the Latin lessons started to pay off — my teacher’s feedback on my pronunciation was helpful. 
  • Ms. Des prefers to spend the latter half of her days eating pie and painting the sunset with watercolors. 
  • The latter half of the copyright court case was focused on the everyday expressions of emotion between the two genre scenes. 
  • The latter part of the editing process for the 5th edition of the Collins English Dictionary was one of my favorite parts of working with William Collins Sons & Co. 
  • When comparing the two movies, the former starts with a bang but then moves slowly, but the latter has a consistent pace all the way through. 


The better your communication skills are, the more likely you will succeed in your field, no matter what it is! Understanding complicated words in the English language can help you to become a more eloquent and educated speaker. If you can master the language you use, you’ll be able to communicate more clearly, which can help to propel you to greatness. 

If you want to understand more confusing words in the English language, feel free to take a look around our blog here at The Word Counter! We have countless articles on confusing words, common grammatical confusions, and other things that can help to increase the quality and efficacy of your communication. The Word Counter is here to help you communicate in a way that will maximize your potential — take a look today!


  1. 23 Synonyms & Antonyms for LATTER |
  2. Latter Definition & Meaning |
  3. Introduction to Old English | University of Texas