Last But Not Least - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you making a list of items or people in no specific order of priority? If you're reading out the list, you might want to include the idiom "last but not least" before mentioning the person. This technique shows that the last person or item on the list is just as valuable as all the other names or items you previously read.

"Last but not least" is an idiom used frequently in all types of conversation. It suits use in formal and informal settings, whether you're reading a list in front of the press or mentioning it to your friends. This post unpacks everything you need to know about using this idiom in conversation, its meaning, and origin.

Last but not Least Meaning

The meaning of "last but not least" refers to the last reference or item you read on a list being just as beneficial or valuable as the first. It's a way to instill confidence in people. For instance, if you read out the names for a team, then the last person might feel like they just barely made the cut.

As a result of their low ranking, they might lose confidence or feel undeserving of their placing. Using the phrase "last but not least" shows that you value the inclusion of the person or object into whatever the list is referring to.

Last but not least could refer to people or items or objects. It has a frequent use when reading credits to show the last person that they are as valuable to the speaker as the first name they read on the list.

Last but not Least Example Usage

Some examples of using "last but not least" in a sentence or conversation are as follows.

  • Last but not least, on our list of recipients, we have John.
  • Last but not least on the list of survival gear is your knife.
  • Last but not least on the ingredients list is celery.
  • Last but not least on the list of people making this project possible is Jane.

Last but not Least Origin

The origin of the phrase "last but not least" may come from as far back as biblical times. In his 1382 interpretation of the Book of Matthew, John Wyclif writes, "the firste the laste, and the laste the firste" can be found.

There is also reference to the phrase in John Lyly's "Euphues and His England," a theatrical work from 1580. Shakespeare also used the term in his work "King Lear" in 1605, where he wrote, "Although the last, not least; to whose young love."

Phrases Similar to Last but not Least

There are similar phrases to "last but not least." Here are a few examples.

  • Just as importantly.
  • Not least of all.
  • To conclude with fervor.

Phrases Opposite to Last but not Least

Some phrases with an opposite meaning to last but not least include the following.

  • In the last position.
  • In last place

These statements make the last person or item on the list definitive.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Last but not least
  • Last but certainly not least.

Ways People May Say Last but not Least Incorrectly

People may use the phrase "last but not least" correctly when reading out a tiered list. For instance, if you're going through a list of top restaurants, with your favorite on the top and your least favorite on the bottom, you wouldn't conclude your reading with "last but not least."

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Last but not Least

You'll use "last but not least" when addressing a crowd or reading a list of items. It's appropriate to use the term when you're trying to show that the last person or object is as valuable as the first.

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