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Is there any difference between the words lowest and lowermost? When should I use either of them? Possibly lowermost should never be used?

  • In the vast majority of situations, you'd probably best best off using lowest. But there is a category of utterances which call for the -most fomulation, even when there's an established superlative. If I can figure out how to articulate when it's called for, I'll post an answer. But for now, you're certainly safe if you stick with "lowest". – Dan Bron Mar 24 '16 at 13:51
  • By far less common than lowest, but still a valid, probably literary, term: books.google.com/ngrams/… - Lowermost: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lowermost – user66974 Mar 24 '16 at 13:53
  • @Josh61 Not just "literary", there's something specific about the situations where the -most suffix is used for superlatives. I just can't quite put my finger on it. – Dan Bron Mar 24 '16 at 13:54
  • -most: > - superlative suffix of adjectives and adverbs, Middle English alteration (by influence of unrelated most) of Old English -mest, a double superlative, from -mo, -ma (cognate with Latin -mus; compare Old English forma "first," meduma "midmost") + superlative ending -est. etymonline.com/index.php?term=-most&allowed_in_frame=0 – user66974 Mar 24 '16 at 14:38
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    The rule is really simple. When in doubt, use "lowest". If you don't know whether you should use "lowermost", don't use it. Use "lowest". Simple as that. Works every time. – RegDwigнt Mar 24 '16 at 23:39
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Lowermost makes more sense when used to reference actual physical locations, "the lowermost floor." Lowest can be used more generally to compare, " e.g. "the lowest ranking officer."

  • Another driveby downvoter, a plague on this site. – deadrat Mar 24 '16 at 19:53
  • Not sure what you mean? – Hefewe1zen Mar 24 '16 at 22:05
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    When you get a rep of 1000 you'll be able to click on a score and see the number of up and down votes. Your answer has a score of 0 because someone downvoted the answer, and I upvoted it. -1 + 1 = 0. The downvoter didn't leave a comment to say why your answer deserved a downvote. I call such a person a driveby downvoter. Without an explanation, it's hard to know what, if anything, is wrong with your answer. I don't like that behavior, so I said so. Your answer could be improved with some research and examples, but I still think you're right. – deadrat Mar 24 '16 at 22:23
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    Some users downvote answers because they are not supported, many users on this site are not native speakers, by providing evidence you will strengthen your answer and possibly earn more upvotes. Make EL&U a better place for answers :) – Mari-Lou A Mar 25 '16 at 7:36
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OALD has no entry for lowermost. Actually this means you don't need the word. Collins and TFD (The Free Dictionary) have an entry for lowermost meaning lowest. So lowermost is just a variant for lowest, and the question is whether such a variant is necessary at all.

Ngrams shows that the frequency of lowermost is extremely low. Link

  • You often use small case for OALD, (the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary) and I think for users not familiar with the acronym this might lead them to think it is a "real" word. It is a mouthful to write the full form, I appreciate that, but as an act of courtesy to the OP (his first question here?) I think you should either write its full form or provide a link. – Mari-Lou A Mar 25 '16 at 7:39
  • I have corrected Oald to OALD, though I prefer Oald because I need less clicks on the change key. – rogermue Mar 25 '16 at 9:28

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