Printable Version
Pronunciation: êl-teer-ri-êr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Beyond what is evident, especially being concealed so as to deceive, as 'ulterior motive'. 2. Subsequent, further, future. 3. On the farther side of some point, more remote.

Notes: Today's word rarely occurs unaccompanied by motive(s). 'Ulterior motives' are hidden reasons for behavior. The adverb, ulteriorly means "subsequently, afterwards", as in 'a high school graduate not ulteriorly teachable'. The noun, ulteriority, refers to anything ulterior. Both are rarely used.

In Play: We seldom see or hear this word except as a descriptor of motivation: "Every woman Phil Anders dates sees his ulterior motives through his masquerade." However, the other uses do appear occasionally: "Phil puts on the masquerade in hopes of ulterior results."

Word History: Today's Good Word was snatched whole from Latin ulterior "farther, more distant" (comparative of ultra "beyond, over, across"), which became ulteriore in Italian, ulterior in Portuguese and Spanish, and ultérieur in French. Latin built its word from ultra, a word derived from uls "beyond", + -ior, the comparative suffix. Uls is the Latin creation from PIE al- "beyond; other", found also in Sanskrit arad "from a distance" and are "far", Latin alter "other (of two) and alius "other, different", Greek allos "other, different, strange", Armenian ail "another", Old English elles "otherwise", Modern English else, Czech loni "last year", Welsh arall "other", and Irish aire "nobleman, leader". (Thank you, Tony Bowden of London, for all your suggestions over the years and for today's poignant Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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