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Outmost vs. Utmost: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 12, 2023
Outmost refers to the farthest external boundary, while Utmost denotes the greatest degree or extent.

Key Differences

Outmost and Utmost are distinct in their usage and implications. While both have roots in describing extremities, their applications in English diverge significantly. Outmost delineates the outermost boundary or surface, emphasizing spatial position. Conversely, Utmost suggests the highest degree or intensity of something.
Imagine a series of concentric circles. The Outmost circle is the one farthest from the center, highlighting its position. In contrast, if we were to speak about the importance, intensity, or effort of something, we would use Utmost. It's about pushing limits to the extreme in terms of quality or quantity.
Consider the protective layers of an organism. The Outmost layer is the one directly exposed to the external environment. However, when expressing the importance of protecting that organism, one might say that it's of the Utmost significance to ensure its survival.
While Outmost is predominantly an adjective detailing position, Utmost serves both as an adjective and a noun. As an adjective, Utmost can describe the maximum capability or extremity, and as a noun, it signifies the extreme limit or degree.
It's important to discern the subtleties between Outmost and Utmost. Outmost is concerned with spatial extremities, whereas Utmost addresses extremities in degree, quality, or importance.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Farthest external boundary
Greatest degree or extent


Mostly as an adjective
As both an adjective and a noun


Spatial position
Intensity, quality, or importance


Maximum, extreme

Example Sentence

The outmost layer was damaged.
He tried his utmost to complete the task.

Outmost and Utmost Definitions


Situated at the farthest boundary or point.
The outmost stars in the galaxy are hard to observe.


Being at the furthest limit in terms of quality or quantity.
The situation demanded the utmost patience.


Relating to the utmost edges or extremities.
The outmost regions of the forest are unexplored.


Of the greatest possible amount, degree, or intensity.
She did her utmost to finish the project on time.


Being the external layer or surface.
The outmost skin is the body's first line of defense.


The highest, greatest, or best of one's abilities or power.
He performed with utmost skill.


Furthest from the center or a particular point of reference.
The outmost ring of the target is the least rewarding.


Most extreme; maximum.
The decision was of utmost importance.


Absolute external limit.
The fence marks the outmost boundary of the property.


Being or situated at the most distant limit or point; farthest
The utmost tip of the peninsula.


Farthest out; outermost.


Of the highest or greatest degree, amount, or intensity; most extreme
A matter of the utmost importance.


Farthest outside; as far from the center or inside as possible.


The greatest possible amount, degree, or extent; the maximum
Worked every day to the utmost of her abilities.


That which is outmost; the surface; the outside.


Situated at the most distant limit; farthest, outermost.
The utmost limits of the land
The utmost extent of human knowledge


Farthest from the middle or interior; farthest outward; outermost.


The most extreme; greatest, ultimate.
The utmost assiduity
The utmost harmony
The utmost misery or happiness


Situated at the farthest possible point from a center


The greatest possible capability, extent, or quantity; maximum.
At the utmost
To the utmost


Situated at the farthest point or extremity; farthest out; most distant; extreme; as, the utmost limits of the land; the utmost extent of human knowledge.
We coasted within two leagues of Antibes, which is the utmost town in France.
Betwixt two thieves I spend my utmost breath.


Being in the greatest or highest degree, quantity, number, or the like; greatest; as, the utmost assiduity; the utmost harmony; the utmost misery or happiness.
He shall answer . . . to his utmost peril.
Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.


The most that can be; the farthest limit; the greatest power, degree, or effort; as, he has done his utmost; try your utmost.
We have tried the utmost of our friends.


The greatest possible degree;
He tried his utmost


Of the greatest possible degree or extent or intensity;
Extreme cold
Extreme caution
Extreme pleasure
Utmost contempt
To the utmost degree
In the uttermost distress


Highest in extent or degree;
To the last measure of human endurance
Whether they were accomplices in the last degree or a lesser one was...to be determined individually


(comparatives of `far') most remote in space or time or order;
Had traveled to the farthest frontier
Don't go beyond the farthermost (or furthermost) tree
Explored the furthest reaches of space
The utmost tip of the peninsula


The extreme limit or degree.
The news was surprising to the utmost.


Can "Outmost" be used to describe intensity or quality?

No, "Outmost" typically refers to spatial positions, not intensity or quality.

Can "Utmost" stand alone in a sentence?

Yes, "Utmost" can indicate the greatest possible degree without a direct comparison.

Is "Outmost" commonly used in everyday language?

"Outmost" is less common than its synonym "Outermost."

Is "Utmost" always about extremity in a positive sense?

No, "Utmost" describes the greatest degree or extent, whether positive or negative.

Can "Utmost" be used as both an adjective and a noun?

Yes, for example: "She did her utmost" (noun) and "It's of utmost importance" (adjective).

Are "Outmost" and "Utmost" synonymous?

No, "Outmost" refers to the farthest boundary, while "Utmost" indicates the greatest degree or extent.

Can "Utmost" describe a minimal degree?

No, it specifically denotes the greatest degree or extent.

What part of speech is "Outmost"?

"Outmost" is primarily used as an adjective.

Can "Outmost" refer to non-physical boundaries?

Less commonly, but it's possible when describing outer limits or edges, even abstractly.

In what contexts might "Outmost" be preferable to "Outermost"?

Their meanings overlap, but stylistic or rhythmic considerations in writing might favor one over the other.

Does "Outmost" have a noun form?

"Outmost" is mainly an adjective and doesn't have a standard noun form.

Is "Outmost" used in formal writing?

It can be, though "Outermost" is more prevalent.

Is "Utmost" derived from "Outmost"?

No, though they sound similar, their etymological roots differ.

Can "Outmost" describe feelings or emotions?

It's not standard usage. "Outmost" primarily refers to spatial positions.

Is "Utmost" synonymous with "Maximum"?

They're similar, but "Utmost" often has a qualitative connotation, while "Maximum" is quantitative.

Can "Utmost" refer to a person?

Indirectly. For example, "She is the utmost authority on the subject," but not typically to describe personal qualities.

Can "Outmost" and "Utmost" be used interchangeably in a sentence?

Rarely, as they denote different things – one spatial position, the other degree or quality.

What's a synonym for "Outmost"?

A common synonym is "Outermost."

Which word is older, "Outmost" or "Utmost"?

"Utmost" has older roots, tracing back to Old English. "Outmost" appeared later, influenced by "Outermost."

Is "Utmost" more common in British or American English?

"Utmost" is common in both variants of English.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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