noun, plural optima [op-tuh-muh] , optimums.
the best or most favorable point, degree, amount, etc., as of temperature, light, and moisture for the growth or reproduction of an organism.
the greatest degree or best result obtained or obtainable under specific conditions.
most favorable or desirable; best: optimum conditions.

1875–80; < Latin: noun use of neuter of optimus best, suppletive superlative of bonus good

3. ideal, perfect, optimal.
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World English Dictionary
optimum (ˈɒptɪməm)
n , pl -ma, -mums
1.  a condition, degree, amount or compromise that produces the best possible result
2.  most favourable or advantageous; best: optimum conditions
[C19: from Latin: the best (thing), from optimus best; see optimism]

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Word Origin & History

1879, from L. optimum, neut. sing. of optimus "best" (used as a superl. of bonus "good"), probably related to ops "power, resources" (in which case the evolution is from "richest" to "the most esteemed") or to ob "in front of," with superlative suffix *-tumos. Originally in biology, in ref. to "conditions
most favorable" (for growth, etc.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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