Upmost or Utmost: What’s the Difference?

The English language is full of confusing words that mix up writers, so don’t feel bad if you get one or two confused with each other.

Most of people’s confusion concerns the use of different homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same when spoke but are not spelled the same and do not have the same meanings.

While today’s two words aren’t exact homophones, they still sound close enough to each other to confuse writers and speakers alike.

What is the Difference Between Upmost and Utmost?

In this post, I will highlight the differences between these two words: upmost vs. utmost. I will cover each word’s definition and function in a sentence, and I will provide example sentences for each word from newspapers and other authorities.

Plus, at the end, I will give a tip to remember the difference between the two.

After reading this post, you shouldn’t ever again wonder, “Should I be using upmost or utmost?”

When to Use Upmost

upmost versus utmost grammar differenceWhat does upmost mean? Upmost is fairly uncommon variant of the adjective uppermost and is defined as highest in location, farthest up.

  • We need to dig through the upmost/uppermost layer of sediment to lay the foundation.
  • The upmost/uppermost windows of the building need to be cleaned.
  • My office is on the upmost/uppermost floor of the building.

Both words can be used interchangeably, but uppermost is clearly the better word choice. Using uppermost exclusively eliminates any possible confusion that can arise between utmost vs. upmost.

Plus, as I mentioned above, uppermost is clearly preferred over upmost (probably for the added clarity) in popular usage.

utmost degree definition

The above chart shows just how wide the disparity in use between upmost vs. uppermost is. Uppermost is a huge multiple above upmost, which barely even registers a line.

When to Use Utmost

utmost versus upmost synonyms What does utmost mean? Utmost also functions as an adjective and is defined as the most extreme; of the greatest urgency or intensity.

  • The biography was written with the utmost respect for the deceased.
  • This is a matter of the utmost importance; don’t screw it up.
  • And those responsible for controlling introduced species must do so with utmost care. –The New York Times

Utmost can also function as a noun with a similar meaning, the greatest possible amount; degree; or extent.

  • He worked every day to the utmost of his ability to put food on the table.
  • Cotman said he was doing his utmost to work with the community, and that he designs tracks so neighborhood access can be left open until the last possible minute. –The Boston Globe

Phrases That Use Utmost

As you could see from the examples above, there are a few different phrases that incorporate the word utmost.

  • The utmost respect.
  • The utmost importance.
  • Do one’s utmost.

These three phrases use the word utmost not upmost.

  • I have the utmost respect for my father.
  • This is of the utmost importance.
  • Doing your utmost is all that I ask.

Trick to Remember the Difference

What’s a good way to keep track of these two words, so you don’t have to remember all of this every time you go to write them? Here’s a helpful mnemonic.

Upmost is a word that causes more confusion than it does clarity, so you can effectively eliminate it from your vocabulary.

But, if you can remember that upmost is short for uppermost and this word has to do with being up top, i.e., the highest or farthest up, you will be set.

Utmost, on the other hand, has to do with things that are the most extreme, greatest urgency, or most important.

Summary

Is it utmost or upmost? The error occurs when people mistakenly use upmost when they mean to use utmost.

Upmost is a very infrequently used variant of uppermost and can basically be eliminated from one’s vocabulary.

Utmost is used to describe something that is the most extreme or of the highest importance.