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From Latin ulterior (further, more distant), from ulter (that is beyond) + -ior (more).



ulterior (not comparable)

  1. Situated beyond, or on the farther side.
    • 1827, William C[hanning] Woodbridge; Emma Willard, “Hispania or Spain”, in Universal Geography, Ancient and Modern; on the Principles of Comparison and Classification, 2nd edition, Hartford, Conn.: Published by Oliver D. Cooke & Co. J. & J. Harper, printers, OCLC 41192048, page 23:
      It [Spain] was divided by the Romans into two provinces, Citeriour and Ulteriour, nearer and farther, that is, from Rome.
    • 2000, Niko Besnier, “Morphology”, in Tuvaluan: A Polynesian Language of the Central Pacific (Descriptive Grammars), London; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 347:
      Both citerior and ulterior locations (and corresponding contact locations) are marked similarly. Complex prepositions with mua 'front' [] and tua 'back' [] can denote citerior and ulterior locations respectively, while tafa 'side' [] can denote either citerior or ulterior locations.
  2. Beyond what is obvious or evident.
    • 1810, William Paley; G[eorge] W[ilson] Meadley, “Of the Personality of the Deity”, in The Works of William Paley, D.D. in Five Volumes. With a Memoir of His Life, by G. W. Meadley, volume I (Containing Natural Theology), Boston, Mass.: Printed and published by Joshua Belcher, OCLC 8916478, page 285:
      Let a watch be contrived and constructed ever so ingeniously: be its parts ever so many, ever so complicated, ever so finely wrought, or artificially put together, it cannot go without a weight or spring, that is, without a force independent of, and ulteriour to, its mechanism.
    • 1975, Peter H[ewitt] Hare; Edward H[enry] Madden, “Aesthetics”, in Causing, Perceiving and Believing: An Examination of the Philosophy of C. J. Ducasse (Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy; 6), Dordrecht; Boston, Mass.: D. Reidel Publishing Company, →ISBN, page 130:
      Other aestheticians have said that aesthetic contemplation is nothing more than sustained, concentrated attention to an object in which there is no ulterior purpose and the attention is an end in itself.
    • 2012, Alexander Broadie, Agreeable Connexions: Scottish Enlightenment Links with France, Edinburgh: John Donald, →ISBN:
      The first questions in science are questions of fact, questions immediately answerable on the basis of observation. Beyond such questions are others, ulterior questions which are more interesting to us and which motivate the questions of fact.
    • 2016, Sangkul Kim, “Rethinking the Knowledge-Based Approach (II): A Purpose-based Theory of Individualistic Genocidal Intent”, in A Collective Theory of Genocidal Intent (International Criminal Justice Series; 7), The Hague: T. M. C. Asser Press, →ISBN, page 67:
      This notion of ‘ulterior intent’ is the closest legal term to the concept of ‘motive’ as both share the character of hiddenness. In terms of a reason or motive for an action, you don’t hide something unless you really want (to do) something. So, if your reason or motive for an action is characterized or called as ‘ulterior’, it indicates that what you secretly want cannot be an ‘unwanted (or uninterested) but permitted side-effect’. Instead, it must be the ‘desired main effect’ of your ulterior motive or intent.
  3. Being intentionally concealed so as to deceive.
    • 1960, Richard Stanley Peters, “Motives and Motivation”, in The Concept of Motivation (Studies in Philosophical Psychology), 2nd edition, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; New York, N.Y.: Humanities Press, OCLC 613171051, page 32:
      Motives, of course, may be mixed; but this only means that a man aims at a variety of goals by means of the same course of action. Similarly a man may have a strong motive or a weak one, an ulterior motive or an ostensible one.
  4. (archaic) Happening later; subsequent.
    an ulterior action
    • 1782, “an American” [pseudonym], “Amsterdam. Address of the Merchants, &c. to Their Regency.”, in A Collection of State-papers, Relative to the First Acknowledgment of the Sovereignty of the United States of America, and the Reception of Their Minister Plenipotentiary, by Their High Mightinesses the States General of the United Netherlands, London: Printed for John Fielding, No. 23, Pater-noster-row; John Debrett, opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly; and John Sewell, No. 32, Cornhill, page 60:
      Their noble and grand Mightineſſes have thereby not only ſatisfied the general wiſhes of the greateſt and beſt part of the inhabitants of this province, but they have laid the foundations of ulteriour alliances and correſpondencies of friendſhip and of good underſtanding with the United States of America, which promiſe new life to the languiſhing ſtate of our commerce, navigation, and manufactures.
    • 1840, M. Lepage, “On the Means of Distinguishing Vegetable Alkalies by Chlorine, and by the Sulpho-cynanide of Potassium”, in Charles Watt and John Watt, Jun., editors, The Chemist; or Reporter of Chemical Discoveries and Improvements, and Protector of the Rights of the Chemist and Chemical Manufacturer, volume I, London: Printed for the proprietors, and sold by R. Hastings, 13, Carey Street, OCLC 7752341, page 141:
      A rather deep red coloration, which appears by the action of the first bubbles of chlorine, but which soon disappears by the ulterior action of this gas: not turbid.

Usage notesEdit

Ulterior is primarily used today to refer to impure, covert, and external motives. In the sense “beyond, farther”, the antonym is citerior (nearer), but this tends to be used only in literary writing. Instead, proximate and ultimate are more commonly used for “nearest” and “farthest” (cause, etc.) respectively.

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Further readingEdit



ulter +‎ -ior



ulterior (neuter ulterius); third declension

  1. further away


Third declension, comparative variant

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masc./Fem. Neuter Masc./Fem. Neuter
nominative ulterior ulterius ulteriōrēs ulteriōra
genitive ulteriōris ulteriōrum
dative ulteriōrī ulteriōribus
accusative ulteriōrem ulterius ulteriōrēs ulteriōra
ablative ulteriōre ulteriōribus
vocative ulterior ulterius ulteriōrēs ulteriōra





  • ulterior in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • ulterior in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • ulterior in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette



ulterior (plural ulteriores)

  1. ulterior
  2. later; subsequent

Derived termsEdit