What's the difference between "lastly" and "finally". While Webster explains several senses of "finally", it doesn't explain any meaning of "lastly" and simply enters it in the entry for "last" as one of its derivatives.

On the other hand, while in the entry for "finally" it uses some synonyms to describe its meanings (such as "eventually" and "ultimately"), it interestingly avoids using "lastly" there.

So, are there any connotative differences between, say:

Finally, we should make some friends in our new school.


Lastly, we should make some friends in our new school.

Is it like "finally" is more emotional and "lastly" is more rational?

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  • @Cardinal - That's the answer. – brilliant May 26 '19 at 14:25
  • Although the two words can be used interchangeably in nearly all circumstances, "finally" tends to be used when listing things in chronological order "First we go to London then we drive to Birmingham finally we go home" "lastly" is often use in the sense of importance or urgency "First we save the people then we put out the fire lastly we call the insurance company" – Peter Jennings May 26 '19 at 14:27
  • Speaking stylistically, lastly is deprecated by many people in favour of just last. – Jason Bassford May 26 '19 at 16:23
  • In some contexts, something that is final means that nothing else will ever occur. But something that is last may simply be the last for now—while more things may still occur in the future. – Jason Bassford May 26 '19 at 16:25

When the writer is enumerating items in a list "lastly" and "finally" have essentially the same meaning. That seems to be the usage in the question. In other usage, "last" may essentially mean "latest" while "final" more clearly says there will be no more.

  • His last book was written in 2017. (There may be more to come.)
  • His final book was written in 2017. (There will be no more.)

And of course "finally" may be used in quite different contexts, such as

Finally, we reached Mark's house.

meaning "after a long time" or "at the end of an extended process". The word "lastly" would simply not work for any such use -- it does not have that meaning.

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