Meaning of “last” in the English Dictionary

"last" in British English

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lastadjective, adverb, pronoun, noun

uk /lɑːst/ us /læst/

A2 (the person or thing) after everyone or everything else:

[ + to infinitive ] I hate being the last one to arrive at a meeting.
Our house is the last one on the left before the traffic lights.
The Mets will surely finish the season in last place (= at the lowest rank of their division).
I know Johnson finished last in the race, but who was second to last (= the one before the one at the end)?
I don't know why he bothers to bet - his horses always come in last.
At the last moment (= as late as possible) he changed his mind.
He always leaves important decisions to the last (possible) moment (= as late as possible).
at (long) last

B1 finally:

I've finished my essay at last!
At long last the government is starting to listen to our problems.
the last person, thing, etc.

More examples

  • She's the last person to be interested in violent movies.
  • Cream cakes are the last thing you should eat if you're on a diet.
  • He's the last person I'd trust to look after my children.
  • The last thing I need is more work to do.
  • I think I'm getting a headache - that's the last thing I need today!

B2 the least expected or wanted person or thing:

Three extra people to feed - that's the last thing I need!
The last thing I wanted was to make you unhappy.
Matthew is the last person I'd expect to be interested in dance.
He's the last person I'd trust with my keys.
last thing (at night)

at the latest time in the day:

I'll switch on the washing machine last thing so it'll be finished when I get up in the morning.
the last time

If you say that it is the last time you will do something, you mean that you will never do it again:

He never even thanked me, so that's the last time I do him a favour.

More examples

  • My last class ends at four o'clock.
  • The doctors made one last desperate attempt to save the boy's life.
  • Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain.
  • He was the last person to see the woman alive, and suspicion immediately fell on him.
  • I didn't manage to write down that last bit she said, about the meeting.

lastadjective [ before noun ], pronoun, noun [ U ]

uk /lɑːst/ us /læst/

B1 (being) the only one or part that is left:

Do you mind if I have the last chocolate?
I'm down to my last dollar - could I borrow some money for lunch?
I'm afraid Martha's eaten the last of the ice cream.
She was the last of the great educational reformers.

More examples

  • You got the last ticket - damn you, I wanted that!
  • Today's my last full day in Paris.
  • Go steady on the milk, Dan - that's our last bottle.
  • I finally surrendered to temptation, and ate the last remaining chocolate.
  • That's the last time I'm going to look after her kids - I'll be glad when the little demons go home.

lastadjective, adverb, pronoun

uk /lɑːst/ us /læst/

A1 (being) the most recent or the one before the present one:

Did you hear the storm last night (= during the previous night)?
Did you see the news on TV last night (= yesterday evening)?
They got married last November.
When was the last time you had a cigarette?
When did you last have a cigarette?
She's been working there for the last month (= for the four weeks until now).
formal Could you account for your whereabouts on Sunday last?
The/These last five years have been very difficult for him.
The last we heard of her, she was working as an English teacher in France.
Each of her paintings has been better than the last.

More examples

  • Most of the diseased trees were chopped down last year.
  • Did you vote Conservative at the last election?
  • Who was she dancing with at the party last night?
  • In their last encounter with Italy, England won 3-2.
  • "Have you always lived here?" "As a matter of fact I've only lived here for the last three years".

lastverb [ I, L only + noun ]

uk /lɑːst/ us /læst/

B1 to continue to exist:

The meeting lasted two hours.
The drought lasted for several months.
They say the snow will last until the end of next week.
I can't see the ceasefire lasting.
They haven't had an argument for two weeks, but it's too good to last (= they'll have an argument soon).
I doubt their enthusiasm will last.
He's working very efficiently at the moment, but it won't last.

C1 to continue being good or suitable:

There's no point buying something that isn't going to last.
The cheaper washing machines should last about five years.
This pen should last (you) a lifetime if you take care of it.
Her previous secretary only lasted a month (= left after this period).

More examples

  • The exam lasted an hour and a half.
  • The relationship was never going to work, but it was fun while it lasted.
  • The election broadcast, a nine-hour marathon, lasts until seven o'clock in the morning.
  • Apparently this good weather isn't going to last until the weekend.
  • Who can predict how long this uneasy peace between the two countries will last?

Idiom(s)

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “last” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"last" in American English

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lastnoun [ U ]

us /læst/

last noun [ U ] (FINAL)

the person or thing after everyone or everything else:

Heather was the last to go to bed and the first to get up.

last noun [ U ] (NO MORE)

the only one or part that is left:

Mark ate the last of the ice cream.

last noun [ U ] (MOST RECENT)

the most recent, or the one before the present one:

We had lunch together the week/month before last (= two weeks/months ago).
The last we heard, she was teaching English overseas.
Each of her novels seems better than the last.

lastadjective [ not gradable ]

us /læst/

last adjective [ not gradable ] (NOT DESIRABLE)

being the least desirable or least likely:

Traveling across the country with two small children is the last thing I want to do.

lastverb

us /læst/

last verb (CONTINUE)

to continue for a period of time, or to continue to exist:

[ I ] The tour lasts about an hour.
[ I ] She’s into soccer at the moment, but it won’t last.

To last is also to continue in a situation although it is difficult:

[ L ] Her previous secretary only lasted a month.

To last is also to continue to work well or stay in good condition:

[ I ] I’d rather pay a little more and buy clothing that’s going to last.

lastadjective, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /læst/

last adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (FINAL)

(coming) after everyone or everything else:

In math tests, American students came in last (= ranked the lowest).
He was last in line for tickets.
Our house is the last one on the left.
Despite recent wins, the team is still in last place (= lowest in rank among it competitors).

last adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (MOST RECENT)

most recent, or most recently:

These last five years have been very difficult for him.
Kristal said in her last letter that she might come to visit.
When was the last time you went to the movies?
We last saw Grandma in 1994.

lastadverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈlæst/ also lastly, /ˈlæst·li/

last adverb [ not gradable ] (FINAL)

(in ending a set of items or a series of thoughts) finally:

The men begin the dance, then the women enter, and last, the children join in.

(Definition of “last” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)