Upmost or Utmost? How to Use These Words in English

Upmost and Utmost are two of the most confusing words in the English language. Not only do they look alike, but they also sound almost the same in normal conversation.

To make things harder, the words are both adjectives and have pretty similar meanings. This makes it ten times easier to confuse the words in writing.

In most cases, the word upmost will be used in a place that utmost should be used. This is to be expected, as UP is more common than UT. However, that doesn’t mean that the words are interchangeable and can be used for each other.

Utmost

Utmost is used when talking about something of the highest or greatest amount, number, or degree. It will most commonly be found around words like respect, concern, importance, and several others.

Utmost is also used to indicate that something is the farthest away or most distant. It can be used both literally and figuratively.

Although the word is an adjective, utmost can also be used as a noun. In this sense, the word refers to the highest degree or point attainable. You might see the word used in phrases such as “to do the utmost” which means to do the best.

Examples
She deserves your utmost respect for her actions.

The situation is being handled with the utmost seriousness.

Your medical condition needs to be handled with the utmost urgency.

The safety of kids at school is of the utmost importance.

Upmost

Upmost is an adjective that is a mix of the adverb up and the adjective most. The word quite literally means most or to the highest or greatest position.

It is a word that is commonly used to refer to the highest position, like its synonym uppermost.

Upmost will be the correct word to use when discussing the highest position of something, not the degree. It is also used to imply that something is ranked the highest in one’s mind.

Uppermost is generally preferred to upmost, but upmost is still a proper word to use in conversation. Upmost is used less commonly than uppermost due to the words meaning the same thing. If you have a choice between upmost and uppermost, you should always use uppermost.

Examples
We will do our upmost to protect children from the dangers of the internet.

I live on the upmost floor of this building.

The baseball made it all the way to the upmost deck in the stadium.

I climbed to the upmost peak of that mountain!

Upmost vs Utmost

The confusion of these words is so common it was even used in a TV show for comedy. In “New Girl”, Jess receives a card from her students saying they have the “upmost” respect for her. Being a teacher, Jess catches this mix-up.

Jess and another character go back and forth on why upmost is incorrect in this sense, to which the second character says, “what is an UT, it’s UP”.

Utmost is going to be the word you use when talking about the respect you have for someone or the importance of something. Upmost typically refers to things that are up high, such as having high concern for someone or something.

Remembering the Difference

One simple way to remember the difference between upmost and utmost is to consider the way they are spelled. Think of the T in uTmost as exTreme or greaTest.

When remembering UPmost, think about the word UP. This will help you remember that “upmost” means the top position. You can think of the phrase “up top” to help you out with UPmost.