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Upmost vs. Utmost: What’s the Gist?
- Upmost functions as an adjective. It is an uncommon variant of uppermost.
- Utmost also functions as an adjective. It means to the greatest extent. It is commonly found in the phrase the utmost respect.
Continue reading for a full description of the two.
Upmost and utmost are not homophones, but they are close. They are both adjectives, and they are both spelled similarly.
Given these similarities, some writers occasionally confuse the two. It’s not an extremely common mistake, but it’s worth going over.
What does upmost mean?
Upmost is a much less common variant of uppermost, and it means the same thing: highest in terms of physical height (the most up or most upper, if you will). Less commonly, it can mean highest in order, rank, or some other nonphysical quality. It can also mean the same thing as topmost, in the sense of predominant, as in a subject of uppermost concern (this is the sense that’s often closest to utmost).
Upmost and the more common uppermost are both most commonly used in the context of the height of something, such as the upmost floor of a building. Still, it’s much more common to refer to this as the uppermost floor, the highest floor, or the top floor.
When to Use Upmost
Upmost definition: Upmost is also an adjective. It is a shortened version of uppermost, meaning the highest in a stack or ranking.
Here are a few examples,
- The slugger hit a home run into the upmost deck of the stadium.
- The mountaineer climbed to the upmost peak, and raised the flag of his home country.
Upmost is sometimes used instead of utmost, but this usage is considered and error. The following chart graphs the usage of his utmost and his upmost to isolate this usage:
As you can see, upmost has always trailed utmost when used in this way. Even while utmost has seen a decline in overall use, upmost has not gained enough group to register a blip. This clearly illustrates the usage pattern of these two words.
A similar graph of upmost respect vs. utmost respect shows the same thing.
What is the difference between utmost and uttermost?
As nouns the difference between uttermost and utmost is that uttermost is the utmost; the highest or greatest degree; the farthest extent while utmost is maximum; greatest possible amount or quantity.
Upmost vs Utmost
The confusion of these words is so common it was even used in a TV show for comedy. In “New Girl”, Jess receives a card from her students saying they have the “upmost” respect for her. Being a teacher, Jess catches this mix-up.
Jess and another character go back and forth on why upmost is incorrect in this sense, to which the second character says, “what is an UT, it’s UP”.
Utmost is going to be the word you use when talking about the respect you have for someone or the importance of something. Upmost typically refers to things that are up high, such as having high concern for someone or something.
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Phrases That Use Utmost
As you could see from the examples above, there are a few different phrases that incorporate the word utmost.
- The utmost respect.
- The utmost importance.
- Do one’s utmost.
These three phrases use the word utmost not upmost.
- I have the utmost respect for my father.
- This is of the utmost importance.
- Doing your utmost is all that I ask.
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