1 : going beyond what is openly said or shown and especially what is proper
2 a : further, future
b : more distant
c : situated on the farther side
Did You Know?
Although now usually hitched to the front of the noun motive to refer to a hidden need or desire that inspires action, ulterior began its career as an adjective in the 17th century describing something occurring at a subsequent time, such as “ulterior measures” taken after a lawful request. It then started to be used to mean both “more distant” (literally and figuratively) and “situated on the farther side.” The “hidden” sense, which is most familiar today, followed after those, with the word modifying nouns like purpose, design, and consequence. Ulterior comes directly from the Latin word for “farther” or “further,” itself assumed to be from ulter, meaning “situated beyond.”
“People need someone in office that they can trust, that they know has no ulterior motives or is beholden to any entities other than the city.” — Mark Rockeymoore, quoted in The San Marcos (Texas) Daily Record, 20 Oct. 2020
“Dreyer describes Seuss’s personal collection of paintings and sculptures as ‘secret art.’ Geisel literally kept them in the closet … and his widow, Audrey Geisel, has never sold an original Seuss. She authorized high-quality lithograph prints so the public can see the ulterior side of her late husband.” — The Alexandria (Virginia) Times, 6 Dec. 2011