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Is there a word for the day before the last day of a period, which is measured by days?

When it is the last day of a period, one may state:

This is the last day to pay this bill.

I'm looking for a word to use in this sentence:

This is the first day of the last two days to pay this bill.

Is there a general word for the second last chance/hour etc.?

For example:

You have two trials to win this game...

but I would like to say:

This is your XXX chance to win this game.

while XXX is the first of two last trials to win a game.

3 Answers 3

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"Penultimate" means "second to last."

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  • 5
    But native English speakers often say "second to last" or "second last". Jul 24, 2012 at 15:56
  • Oh, excellent. I always thought "second last" was an Indian-ism, and I tried to refrain from using it :) Jul 24, 2012 at 16:02
  • 3
    @PeterShor: Or "next to last."
    – Robusto
    Jul 24, 2012 at 16:43
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    @asymptotically: "second-to-last" is what AmE speakers use.
    – Mitch
    Jul 24, 2012 at 16:51
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    @Mitch: some AmE speakers use "second last", and some use "next to last". Jul 24, 2012 at 17:36
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In practice, though, I don't think I'd want to send out a notice saying, "This is your second to last chance to pay this bill." The recipient is likely to conclude, Okay, I'll wait until the last chance and pay it then. I think I'd say something more like, "You have now entered the final period in which you can pay this bill without a late charge" (or whatever horrible things you will do if they don't pay).

In a different sense, if there are two chances to win a game, I think I'd refer to them as "first" and "second" or "first" and "last", not "second to last" and "last". Saying that something is "second to last" rather implies to people that there are more before that. It reminds me of the joke of the runner who boasted that he came in second in the race while his hated rival came in next to last -- without mentioning that the two of them were the only ones in the race.

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The expression, "last but one" also has the same meaning as penultimate.

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  • This may be true - can you expand a little and show some evidence that it's idiomatic and commonly understood?
    – JHCL
    Oct 29, 2015 at 15:38

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