Utmost Vs. Upmost

August 12, 2011

in Technical Writing

I have seen the words utmost and upmost confused in pieces of writing on many occasions. This isn’t surprising. What tends to happen is writers just go with the word that sounds most appropriate, but the fact is these two words mean entirely different things.

Upmost comes from the Middle English word “utmest”, which is part of the Old English language. Ut meaning “out” and mest meaning “most”. Utmost, on the other hand is used in the same context as outermost, and means the farthest point. It is used to indicate an extreme. For example; “The utmost extent of the law”.

Upmost is a form of uppermost, meaning highest in rank or prominent position of power. Upmost isn’t common in American English, although is still used fairly often in British English.

Be careful not to confuse utmost (degree) with upmost (position). If you decide that upmost is the word you want, then consider using uppermost, which has become far more common in recent times.

Examples of using uppermost:

Uppermost in her mind were the risks of getting into the relationship knowing his past.

The worst crooks are often found in the uppermost echelons of society.

I hope that has solved this word dilemma for you.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Confused visitor October 22, 2013 at 5:05 am

Hello, I’m quite confused as you have used the word upmost twice above in your explanations:

Upmost comes from the Middle English word “utmest”, which is part of the Old English language. Ut meaning “out” and mest meaning “most”. Utmost, on the other hand is used in the same context as outermost, and means the farthest point. It is used to indicate an extreme. For example; “The utmost extent of the law”.

Upmost is a form of uppermost, meaning highest in rank or prominent position of power. Upmost isn’t common in American English, although is still used fairly often in British English.

Be careful not to confuse utmost (degree) with upmost (position). If you decide that upmost is the word you want, then consider using uppermost, which has become far more common in recent times.

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tomatotart October 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Excellent catch. It confused me as well. I don’t think it is a typo but a mistake. The author of this took pieces of the explanation from this site grammartips.homestead.com/utmost.html and confused which word comes from Middle English. Upmost is a shortened form of uppermost and is not from Middle or Old English. It came about around 1500AD. Utmost comes from “utmest,” a Middle English word meaning (-ut) outer (-mest) most. Utmest was first used in Old English and came about before 900AD. Maybe the author confused it because the Brits still use upmost appropriately from time to time.

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forex June 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

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