Writing for Business

Apr 8 2010   5:35PM GMT

Utmost or upmost?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The security of clients’ personal information is of _______ importance.
a. upmost
b. utmost

Answer: b

I learn so much writing this blog! I’d seen “upmost” online before but never suspected it was a real word until I looked into the matter today.

Utmost is an adjective meaning to the greatest degree. Nothing could be more important.

Upmost is an archaic variation of uppermost, an adjective meaning in the top position, like the top branches of a tree.

I suspect that 99% or so of instances of upmost should be utmost. I think I’ll have a poke around online, when I get a chance, to see what I can find out. In the meantime, though…

Tina Blue writes about distinguishing upmost from utmost:

The word “upmost” is actually a form of “uppermost,” and it does not fit into the same sort of sentence that calls for “utmost.” In fact, you will seldom find it at all in modern American usage, though I do not know whether that form is still common in British English.

“Uppermost” means in the highest or most prominent position, power or rank,


~Uppermost in his mind were the risks of doing business with such a crook.

~The sweetest fruit was found in the uppermost branches.

In other words, be careful not to use “upmost” (position) when you mean “utmost” (degree), and if you should decide that “upmost” is the word you actually need, you should probably consider substituting the more commonly used “uppermost.”

> Read the whole post.

Thanks to @code_and_prose for the suggestion!

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