The Meaning of Paramount: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of paramount? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word paramount, including its definition, usage, etymology and word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word paramount mean?

According to Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the word paramount, pronounced “ˈpærəˌmaʊnt” is a formal adjective that is used to describe something that is more important than anything else. Things can be described as being of paramount importance, which can provide people with a sense of priorities in a business. An ultimate leader or supreme ruler could be described as a paramount leader or paramount chief. Overall, the word paramount is often used to describe something that is the most important above anything else. This word can be used in a variety of different situations and circumstances in order to describe something that is a priority.

Many different languages also contain words that mean paramount. You may notice that some of these words look similarly to each other. This is likely because they have a common origin or root word. Often, when two languages have the same root, they will contain cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things. This list of translations for the word paramount is provided by Word Sense.

  • Finnish: tärkein‎
  • Spanish: supremo‎, sumo‎
  • Russian: первостепенный‎ (pervostepénnyj), высший‎ (výsšij)
  • Romanian: suprem‎
  • German: höchst‎, überragend‎, vorrangig‎
  • Portuguese: vital‎
  • Swedish: överlägsen‎
  • Manx: ard-chummaghtagh‎, ard-niartal‎
  • Turkish: azam‎, ulu‎, yüce‎

How can the word paramount be used in a sentence?

The word paramount is very versatile and can be used in many different circumstances and scenarios. It is considered quite formal, so one does not need to worry about the word being too casual for whatever context they are in. In this first example, Josh’s dad is frustrated with his poor performance in school.

Dad: Three C’s? Come on, Josh. What’s happening to you? You used to get straight A’s!

Josh: That was before sports, and college apps, and work, and volunteering. There’s only so many hours in a day, I’m just trying to get by.

Dad: I understand that you have a busy schedule, but school has to be paramount. Let’s figure out some stuff you can cut down on to let you focus on getting these grades up before final transcripts. 

Here, Josh’s dad uses the word paramount to emphasize to him that his grades need to be his highest priority above everything else in his life. In this next example, Josh is in a meeting with his counselor and his dad.

Counselor: You could try tutoring. It’s not my responsibility to be concerned with his schedule, that is your job as a parent.

Dad: Your paramount concern should be the mental health of your students, as a counselor. I would think you would understand the effet a schedule this packed could have on a child. We are trying to work with you so that Josh can succeed, and all you’ve done is shoot us down.

Counselor: It’s not my job to teach students prioritization.

Dad: Well, I don’t think they’d learn much judging by what is paramount to you.

Here, Josh’s dad uses the word paramount to try and emphasize what the counselor’s priorities should be. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word paramount?

There are a plethora of different words that can be used in place of the word paramount. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word paramount is provided by Thesaurus.

  • principal
  • supreme
  • ascendant
  • eminent
  • controlling
  • premier
  • leading
  • crowning
  • preeminent
  • overbearing
  • commanding
  • foremost
  • chief
  • prime
  • outstanding
  • main
  • regnant
  • superior
  • headmost
  • prevalent
  • predominate
  • sovereign
  • predominant
  • first
  • primary
  • capital
  • dominant
  • preponderant
  • cardinal

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word paramount. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are also a useful grammatical device to be aware of if you are trying to expand your vocabulary or knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word paramount is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • picayune
  • nonessential
  • worthless
  • inconsequential
  • unimportant
  • indifferent
  • null
  • frivolous
  • immaterial
  • casual
  • insignificant
  • inconsiderable
  • low-ranking
  • of no account
  • useless
  • trifling
  • minute
  • nothing
  • paltry
  • nugatory
  • zilch
  • irrelevant
  • unnecessary
  • negligible
  • zero
  • little
  • meaningless
  • beside the point
  • slight
  • of no consequence
  • minor
  • second-rate
  • frothy
  • petty
  • trivial
  • shoestring
  • zip

What is the origin of the word paramount?

According to Etymonline, the adjective paramount has been used to describe something that is supreme or superior since the 1530s. The word paramount comes from the Anglo-French paramont, which has its roots in the Old French paramont, meaning above in place, order, or degree. The Old French word has been used since the mid-14th century. This term comes from the Old French par, meaning by, which comes from the Latin per, which means though, for, or by. This is then affixed to the root amont meaning up. Amont comes from a mont meaning upward. The word amont is equivalent to the Latin ad montem, which literally means to the hill. Related words include paramountcy, the adverb paramountly, per, and amount. 

Overall, the word paramount is an adjective that is used to describe something that is more important than anything else. This can be used in a variety of different contexts to describe something that needs to be a priority. The word paramount is Latin in origin and is commonly used in formal speech.