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last but not least

Posted by Bob on January 23, 2000

In Reply to: Last but not least posted by ESC on January 22, 2000

: : what is the actual meaning of last but not least?

: I couldn't find the phrase "last but not least" in any of my phrase books even though it's a fairly common one. I think it probably comes from show biz where the lesser known opening acts are on the stage first. Then the star attraction is on last to close the show. The star is "last but not least."

: On the other hand, the phrase may have its roots in the Bible. "Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:30. There's something in the Bible about when you come into a room, take the humblest seat. Then you may be called up to a place of honor. A much wiser practice than taking the seat of honor and running the risk of being asked to move.

I'm inclined to cite the rules of courtesy: when introducing a number of people, one should, as a matter of etiquette, point out that the last person you mention is not being denigrated by his/her position in the queue: they may be (by chance) last, but that sequence should not be construed as a judgement of merit: they may be last (in order), but not least (in esteem).