Upmost vs. Utmost: What’s The Difference?

There are a lot of words in the English language that sound very similar and often get confused for one another. Sometimes people go their entire lives without realizing that they have been using the wrong word in conversations. If you hear someone say a word you may mishear a letter or two, which can further confuse your brain when trying to understand the context. If you are learning English as a second language, using confused words incorrectly is common but fixable. Let’s take a look at two very similar words, utmost and upmost.

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Definition of Upmost

In order to better understand a word and when to use it, you can first look at what it means. Upmost is a colloquial term for the word uppermost. Upmost means, “situated in the highest or most prominent position.” 

This term is a combination of the adverb “up” and the adjective suffix “-most”. This is the correct word to use when discussing the highest location either physically or figuratively. Upmost can also be used to describe something that is high ranking in your own mind.

The word uppermost was first seen in the 15th century, evolving from the word upper. The word upper is from the 1300s from the Dutch and German word upper. Certain terms came along with upper throughout history as colloquial phrases such as, “upper hand” or “upper crust.” 

Definition of Utmost

Although the word utmost sounds very similar to upmost, they have slightly different definitions. The word utmost means, “of the greatest degree or highest degree, highest position, quantity, number, or amount”. Oftentimes people use upmost in a context where utmost is the correct word to use. For example, someone might say, “it is of the upmost importance that you finish this today,” or “with the upmost respect…” But that would be an incorrect usage of the word upmost. You would however use upmost if you were talking about the “upmost location in the city” or the “upmost branch of the military.” 

History and Origin of Utmost

The word Utmost comes from the Old English word “utmest”, a superlative adjective that comes from the adverb “ut”, meaning “out.” 

Eventually the word utmost evolved into the word utmost. This could have been influenced by the spelling of the word “most.”

The earlier version of the word utmost has the same meaning as outermost. 

Utmost meaning “of the greatest or highest degree,” first appeared in English in the 14th century. However, it was not used frequently until about 400 years later.

A related word to utmost is utter, meaning  “total,” or “absolute”  like the phrase “utter chaos”.

Example Sentences of Utmost in Context

Another great way to learn how to use a word properly is to learn how to use it in context.  Reading or hearing someone else use the word correctly will cement it in your vocabulary. Here are some examples of the word utmost being used in context:

  • It is of the utmost importance that you do not tell anyone else about this.
  • I want you to treat him with the utmost respect because he is a veteran.
  • This mattress is designed to provide the utmost comfort to the person sleeping on it. 

When trying to convey the significance of something, you may be tempted to use upmost, because it might sound correct in your head. This is a common English mistake because the words are very similar and some people do not know they are two different words. 

Example Sentences of Upmost in Context

If you would like to know when it is appropriate to use “upmost” instead of utmost, here are some examples for you. 

  • He lives on the upmost floor of the building with a beautiful view.
  • They decided to hike the upmost mountain top for their trip.
  • The baseball player hit a home run into the upmost deck of the ballpark. 

Upmost is correct to use when discussing something that is highest in rank or stacking. It is a shortened version of the word uppermost. 

Synonyms for Upmost

Exploring words with similar definitions is the last good way to really understand how to properly implement a word into your own vocabulary.  Here are some common synonyms for the word upmost:

  • Highest means at or to a considerable or specified height.
  • Loftiest means of imposing height.
  • Predominant means present as the strongest or main element.

Synonyms for Utmost

If you would like to know other words for utmost here are a few examples:

  • Paramount means more important than anything else; supreme.
  • Supreme means strongest, most important, or most powerful.
  • Maximal means of or constituting a maximum; the highest or greatest possible.

In Summary

Sometimes you can go through your whole life and never realize that you have been saying a word wrong. Utmost is easy to get confused to upmost because they are only one letter different. However, it is important to know the difference between the two when speaking and writing correspondence professionally. This will help you appear more intellectual to your peers and superiors. Once you know what each word means, it is easy to remember when to use each one. Utmost conveys respect and the highest amount of importance and upmost is all about being up high physically or on something like a  list. 

Learning words can be a challenge. A word you thought you knew may surprise you after doing some research on it. It is important to remember that while the English language does have generalized rules, there are many rulebreakers too. This is mainly because the English language borrows from so many other languages that words get mixed around. 

Hopefully, this article helped you understand more about the difference between upmost and utmost and when to use each of them correctly.


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