I'm looking through some text in a software application I work on. We give the user several options for when they want to calculate their social security. One of these options is "Retirement or 62 (latter of)".

It's a pretty minor issue, but I'm wondering if that is correct usage of the word latter. My understanding is that "latter of" means the second thing mentioned, whereas in our software it's like we're trying to use it to say "whichever is later".

My idea for changing it would be to just put "Retirement or 62 (later of)" which I think might be a bit clearer.

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    Technically, the latter of "Retirement or 62" is "62"—because it appears later in the phrase than "Retirement" does. I think you'd be better off using "(whichever comes later)" as your parenthetical expression. – Sven Yargs Feb 4 '15 at 18:35

I'm wondering if that is correct usage of the word latter

it is not, you're perfectly correct that it suggests the latter of the two terms "retirement" and "62".

I'd prefer

Retirement or 62 (whichever is later)

to your suggestion though - it reads more naturally to me than "(later of)".


In few formal fixed phrases,the +adjective can have a singular meaning like in latter. Latter is a word refers the second in a sentence.

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    Welcome to EL&U. We expect substantial answers supported by references and such answers will be up-voted. We don't do 'likes' and we don't invite people to give good comments. We are all judged by merit. – Nigel J Jan 5 '18 at 17:44

You are correct about your understanding of the usage of latter but I don't think your edition would make the meaning any clearer to your readers.

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