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Which one is the correct form between "of utmost" and "of the utmost"?

  1. Your attendance at the meeting is of the utmost importance.
  2. Your attendance at the meeting is of utmost importance.

I've found an old forum discussion here, but they don't really conclude anything. The second answer to the question is

They mean the same thing. Use with the article seems far more prevalent.

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Both of them are correct. It depends on whether we should use the definite article the before utmost or not.

If you don't use utmost, it should be of importance as importance is a mass (abstract) noun which doesn't require an article.

However, if you use utmost, you could use the the because utmost is in the superlative form meaning greatest or most extreme.

According to Oxford Online Dictionary, there is an example of "a matter of the utmost importance" and according to Merriam-Webster, there is "a matter of utmost concern".

They show both of them are correct.

As FumbleFingers has shown in the comment, the linked Ngram Viewer shows there is no big difference in their usage in American English. However, British English seems to favor of the utmost importance according to this Ngram Viewer.

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The second answer in that discussion is the right answer; both forms are correct although use of "the utmost" is the most prevalent.

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    Yes, but American usage in particular is shifting more towards not including the article – FumbleFingers Feb 26 '16 at 14:58
  • That's very interesting @FumbleFingers, apparently the same is true for British English – Gabriel Feb 26 '16 at 15:02
  • @Gabriel: To a much lesser degree. The AmE chart shows the article-less form to now be almost exactly as common as the "original", but in BrE it's still not even half as common. And half of what they do include in the BrE corpus are probably misclassified texts - that's about par for the course in Google Books. – FumbleFingers Feb 26 '16 at 15:05
  • After the year 2000 both AmE and BE show an upraise in the usage of the article form – Gabriel Feb 26 '16 at 15:09
  • Off-topic: I think this is an interesting discussion in its own right, and I see the same in the Dutch language: a population stops using a certain phrase in a certain way, and dictionaries and grammar rules follow. Languages evolve for sure, but I'm not convinced that the world is better served by allowing just any change just because there's a large population behind it – Terah Feb 26 '16 at 15:19

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