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Penult is a linguistics term for the second to last syllable of a word. It is an abbreviation of penultimate, which describes the next-to-last item in a series. The penult follows the antepenult and precedes the ultima. For example, the main stress falls on the penult in such English words as banána, and Mississíppi. Occasionally, "penult" refers to the last word but one of a sentence.

The terms are often used in reference to languages like Latin and Ancient Greek, where the position of the pitch accent or stress of a word only falls on one of the last three syllables and is determined by rules, and sometimes in discussing poetic meter.

In certain languages, such as Polish[1] and Welsh,[2] stress is always on the penult.[3]


  1. ^ Polish in the World Atlas of Language Structures
  2. ^ Welsh in the World Atlas of Language Structures
  3. ^ Chapter 14: Fixed Stress Locations in the World Atlas of Language Structures

See also[edit]