I'm looking for a word that describes the state of not being last. A word that would apply to everything in an ordered list that is not the last thing in that list.


I wasn't the last person to finish the race.

to (the phrasing is off, but it seems to illustrate my point)

I was .. person to finish the race.

One word that comes to mind is "intermediate", but I don't think that includes the first item in a list.

  • "I was the second to last to finish the race" has as an example "I was the fifty-seventh person to finish the race, out of 58". – Mitch Sep 2 '14 at 13:00
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    OP is looking for a word like penultimate but for the rest of the list bar the last - perhaps non-ultimate – mplungjan Sep 2 '14 at 13:04
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    I doubt there is a term that defines all positions except the last. – user66974 Sep 2 '14 at 13:09
  • I'm not aware of a single word that expresses this idea. I'd just say "all but the last" or similar. – Jay Sep 2 '14 at 13:34
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    comment because it's (possibly) not a real word, but has usage support: pre-final – SrJoven Sep 5 '14 at 18:20

In formal writing, esp., in the fields of programming, linguistics, the word non-final is already in use.

On Stackoverflow (java):

What is (a) non-final variable?

In René Kager, A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and Dutch (Lingistics) -- Google Books:

… if the rightmost stress is on the final syllable, the primary stress can either be on the final syllable (112a), or on the rightmost stressed non-final syllable (112b) … [emphasis added]

See also ***** :
medial on ODO

1.2 Phonetics (Of a speech sound) in the middle of a word:
A total of 15 items were included on this task requiring students to delete initial, medial, and final phonemes from words [emphasis added]

Although medial, tends to suggest something closer to the middle, it's not necessarily so. In the example above, anything that is not initial or final is referred to as medial.

***** However, medial excludes the initial, which is why it is not a candidate for the OP's case.

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    While this answer could be slightly confusing in context (as I'm looking for a way to name a Java variable and non-final does not refer to order there), it fits perfectly. – Celos Sep 2 '14 at 14:02
  • +1 But when your getting close to the end, you can always fall back on those commonplace terms, penultimate and antepenultimate. – bib Sep 2 '14 at 15:44
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    @bib penultimate and similar words are specific to a single position and thus cannot apply to a general case of 'other than the last.' – Kris Sep 3 '14 at 5:26
  • @Kris That is why I said when you're getting close to the end ... [misspelled in the original]. They are both explicit to position. That is why it was offered as a [tongue-in-cheek] comment rather than an answer. And I realize my cheeks were not visible, but I hate emoticons. – bib Sep 3 '14 at 14:41

The phrase "also-ran" springs to mind which, although is directly referencing a running race, has also come to mean "one of the many other competitors that was not placed first" in any general competition not necessarily just running...

Example: "I was one of the also-rans..."

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    This word describes the property of not being first. I'm looking for something both more general and something that describes the property of not being last. – Celos Sep 2 '14 at 13:46

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