I'm looking for a word that would describe a third category following a "minor" and "major" category. (For compatibility reasons it won't do to insert a middle category of "moderate" or the like.) Example usage:

After fighting past several minor encounters, and a few major encounters, the adventurers finally made contact with the _____ encounter.

  • 3
    How about climactic?
    – Sven Yargs
    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:41
  • 1
    "most excellent"
    – Mitch
    Dec 20, 2015 at 16:44
  • One doesn't really "make contact" with an "encounter". Nonetheless I'd suggest "... the adventurers were faced with their greatest enemy" or "... the ultimate test of will" ("supreme" is really more reserved for gods or fascist leaders :D) Dec 20, 2015 at 21:28
  • How is this unclear? He is looking for the mother of all encounters, which would be against a totally OP opp, obviously. Dec 21, 2015 at 14:49
  • I don't believe this is unclear. There is a description and an example sentence. Translating the Latin into English, minor, major _______ would be less, more, and something like most. The answers supply that.
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:15

8 Answers 8


If it's implied that there are no further obstacles - final.

If it's implied that there's no greater obstacle - supreme.

If it's implied that there's no passing the obstacle - overwhelming.

If it's required to keep some kind of hierarchy - capital.

  • 1
    "Capital" is indeed what I'm tentatively using at the moment. Dec 20, 2015 at 19:50

The word supreme is a good suggestion. You could also consider using ultimate:

greatest or most extreme

Final could be a candidate, too:

coming at the end : being the last in a series, process, or progress


  • 6
    Ultimate might be a good choice.
    – Ugh
    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:49
  • 2
    Although in context, "finally made contact with the ultimate encounter" has an unfortunate air of tautology about it. It's not wrong but it's not quite elegant. Dec 21, 2015 at 0:47

Minor and major are Latin comparatives for small and large respectively, so what is wanted is a superlative. I suggest supreme.

A musician, however, might suggest Dorian, Lydian, Phrygian, Mixo-Lydian, or Locrian.


Climactic or, as others have suggested, ultimate might work when referring to something that happens at or near the end of a sequence of events.

If you are looking for something in the middle or towards the beginning, prime is a good choice.


If you have a nerdy audience, which it sounds like you might, you could use boss, as in video games and tabletop RPGs.

If that's not the case, you might use final, although you would have to recast your sentence to avoid the repetition.


Consider, critical

Having a decisive or crucial importance in the success, failure, or existence of something ODO

After fighting past several minor encounters, and a few major encounters, the adventurers finally made contact with the critical encounter.

  • +1 for "critical" (I am surprised that you got 3 downvotes). Depending on the context, "vital" or "inescapable" may fit.
    – Graffito
    Dec 20, 2015 at 15:53
  • @Graffito critical is a much better option than the post originally suggested. :-)
    – Hellion
    Dec 20, 2015 at 16:24
  • This is the only option that I feel describes a category of battle like OP asked. Most of the other suggestions refer to a single battle, but not a type of battle.
    – Neptunian
    Dec 20, 2015 at 16:56
  • @Neptunian singularity is implied by the, rather than a encounter?
    – Rob Grant
    Dec 21, 2015 at 11:41

If it's the most important encounter in the series, and specifically the encounter that "matters" from a plot perspective, you might call it the primary encounter:

2 a : of first rank, importance, or value : principal


Sticking with an adjective borrowed from Latin, in which language maior (= 'major') is a comparative from the root magnus, the English adjective formed from the borrowed superlative of the same root is

maximal, adj.
1. Of or constituting a maximum; of the greatest possible size, duration, or capacity.

["maximal, adj.". OED Online. December 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/115258 (accessed December 20, 2015).]

In your example sentence, this might be phrased as

After fighting through several minor encounters, and a few major encounters, the adventurers finally fought through the maximal encounter.

Because 'minor' and 'major' are adjectives in English (regardless of being borrowed from comparatives in Middle French and Latin, respectively), the superlative adjectival phrase

most major

is another possibility. This would be a rare use, but not unprecedented. Hence,

Their fighting ranged from the most minor to the most major encounters.

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