\u201cEventually\u201d and \u201cultimately\u201d have plenty in common. Both are ten letters long. Both have \u201c-ly\u201d at the end. And, crucially, both refer to something that happens (or is expected to happen) after a certain period of time.\n\nIt\u2019s this final overlap which causes most confusion, with some people using \u201ceventually\u201d and \u201cultimately\u201d interchangeably. However, there is an important difference, so you won\u2019t want to mix up these words in your written work.\nEventually (Some Time Later)\nWe\u2019ll begin with \u201ceventually,\u201d which generally means \u201csome time later\u201d or \u201cfinally,\u201d especially after a prolonged delay:\nThe queue was long, but we reached the front eventually.\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_2254" align="aligncenter" width="492"] If you queue for too long, petrification can set in.[\/caption]\n\nIt can also be used more generally to indicate an unspecified amount of time, even where no specific delay occurs:\nI\u2019m new to ballet, but I\u2019m hoping to eventually turn professional!\nIn both cases, \u201ceventually\u201d emphasizes the passage of time, either in relation to something that has happened or that is expected to happen.\nUltimately (In the End)\n\u201cUltimately\u201d can mean \u201cfinally\u201d or \u201cin the end,\u201d too, but specifically refers to the finishing point in a process or series of events:\nAlthough it seemed benign to begin with, the virus ultimately spread to other countries.\nA second meaning of \u201cultimately\u201d is to indicate something as a fundamental or basic fact:\nUltimately, tiddlywinks is a game of thrills and spills.\n\n[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="327"] Tiddle that wink! [Image: Hannes Grobe][\/caption]Even in this second use of \u201cultimately,\u201d there is a strong sense of finality, as it suggests something is beyond dispute or conclusive.\nEventually or Ultimately?\nWhen used to mean \u201cfinally,\u201d there are situations in which \u201ceventually\u201d and \u201cultimately\u201d can be used interchangeably. However, even then, each word emphasizes something different.\n\nIf we say something happened \u201ceventually,\u201d it\u2019s usually the passage of time we are stressing. Hence \u201ceventually\u201d is normally used when describing something that happens after a delay.\n\nIf we say something happened \u201cultimately,\u201d on the other hand, the emphasis is on finality, so this term is best saved for referring to something that happens at the end of a process.\n\n[caption id="attachment_2409" align="aligncenter" width="401"] For example, the ultimate fate of all sausages.[\/caption]\n\nWhen \u201cultimately\u201d is used to mean \u201cfundamentally,\u201d moreover, it\u2019s even more important to use the correct term, since \u201ceventually\u201d wouldn\u2019t make sense in this context.