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I'm having trouble to find the appropriate antonym of "utmost" or "uttermost". Dictionaries recommend "mild" and "moderate" but they sound awkward.

  • She has the utmost chance of getting hired for the job while he has the _____ chance.

I want to make a comparison.

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    My first reaction is just to say "least". But "has the utmost chance" sounds very non-idiomatic to me anyway... – stangdon Nov 7 '17 at 17:44
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    little, the merest, million-to-one, minimal, outside, remote, slender, slight, slim ...while he has a very slim one. – Michael Login Nov 7 '17 at 18:23
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    Still better (in my NNS view): She's got an excellent chance of getting hired while his is a very slim one. (his here is a possessive pronoun as in that car of his) – Michael Login Nov 7 '17 at 18:35
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    @MvLog - I agree; slim seems like a natural and idiomatic choice. Ironically, though, fat chance is a synonym – not an antonym – of slim chance (fat gets used sarcastically in that expression). – J.R. Nov 7 '17 at 18:51
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    @J.R. Thanks, didn't know that: A fat chance he has of coming in first, or You think they’ll get married? Fat chance! A related expression is a fat lot, meaning “very little or none at all,” as in A fat lot of good it will do her. – Michael Login Nov 7 '17 at 19:06
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The antonym would be similar to those for "maximum" - minimum/minimal, least, smallest amount, least possible, lowest, nominal, token

She put only a nominal effort into completing the project, since it was very low priority.

They showed only a token interest in the artwork at the exhibition -- they were really only there for the free food and drink.

The new hire always does the least possible amount of work, just enough to avoid being fired.

I agree with the comments that "utmost chance" does not sound idiomatic. Usually "utmost" is used with some kind of effort, opinion, or trait, and not opportunity or outcome. Example:

I have the utmost faith that our client will complete the contract on schedule.

If talking about chance, opportunity, or expected outcome, I would instead choose a word like "highest" rather than "utmost". Antonyms of this would then be "least", or (as Mv Log says in comments) merest, million-to-one, minimal, outside, remote, slender, slight, slim.

She has only the slimmest chance of getting the job, but that doesn't stop her from hoping for the best.

  • I'm not sure how "faith" is different from "chance". Could you be a little bit more specific Andrew? – SovereignSun Nov 7 '17 at 18:08
  • @SovereignSun "Faith" describes your opinion. "Chance" describes a desired outcome. They do not mean the same thing. I can't tell you why it doesn't sound right, it's more that the two words just aren't normally used together. – Andrew Nov 7 '17 at 18:46
  • @SovereignSun also edited to answer your actual question. – Andrew Nov 7 '17 at 18:56
  • I see your point. It's strange that "utmost chance" doesn't sound unidiomatic to me. Surely, as natives you know better. I'll just have to stick to your opinion but I'll initiate a research to try and dive in deeper into this. – SovereignSun Nov 8 '17 at 6:08
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He has the remotest chance of being hired.

  • "remotest" is the utleast? The least possible? – SovereignSun Nov 8 '17 at 3:46
  • Yes, the least possible chance. "Utleast", if you will, or "inmost", though the former does not exist (and is not likely to be understood) and the latter does not have the meaning "least". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 8 '17 at 12:13
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Taking your sentence as it is, I think that the best fit for an antonym would be to take Mv Log's suggestion of slight, but in its superlative form. So:

She has the utmost chance of getting hired for the job, while he has the slightest chance.

However, as it has been noted in the discussion, your use of utmost chance is not idiomatic. I can think of at least two reasons for this.

  1. Popular use of the word utmost has been steadily decreasing for the past 200 years.
  2. When the phrase utmost chance is used, it is most commonly something being given to someone, and in that context, it means that every opportunity has been afforded to the individual in order to make something occur.

So in your sentence, it would be more idiomatic (but still uncommon) to say:

She has been given the utmost chance at getting hired for the job, while he has been given none.

This would actual mean that she has been given the best opportunity at landing the job, while he has been given very little opportunity (i.e. through privilege, discrimination, or other factors). The idiomatic use does not have to do with the expected result given the factors, but the factors themselves. Also note that none is being used hyperbolically in this case in order to contrast the states of the two individuals being compared.

In that light, if you are interested in replacing utmost in order to better capture the sense of likelihood for the two candidates receiving the job, I think that a simple best/worst comparison fits nicely in this situation.

She has the best chance of getting hired for the job while he has the worst chance.

Or to take it a step further and replace best chance with an idiom,

She has the best shot at getting hired for the job, but he has the worst.

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