part of speech: adjective

inflections: later, latest

definition 1: happening after the usual or expected time.

  • I was late because I missed the bus.

synonyms: belated, overdue, tardy

antonyms: early, prompt, punctual

definition 2: happening toward the end of the night or evening.

  • It’s late, so I think I’ll go to bed.

definition 3: happening not long ago; recent.

  • Did you hear the latest news?

synonyms: new, recent

antonyms: old

definition 4: having recently died.

  • We all loved the late Mr. Smith.

synonyms: dead, deceased

antonyms: living


part of speech: adverb

inflections: later, latest

definition 1: after the usual or expected time.

  • The bus arrived late.

synonyms: belatedly, tardily

antonyms: early

definition 2: at or to a time or period near the end.

  • Success came to him late in life.

antonyms: early

derivation: lateness (n.)

Word History

Late comes from an early English word that meant “slow,” “lazy,” or “sluggish.” It was first used in its present meaning (“not on time”) in the 1200s. Today, it is possible to be late without being lazy.