a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, with the basic meaning “on the far side of, beyond.” In relation to the base to which it is prefixed, ultra-, has the senses “located beyond, on the far side of” (ultramontane; ultraviolet ), “carrying to the furthest degree possible, on the fringe of” (ultraleft; ultramodern ), “extremely” (ultralight ); nouns to which it is added denote, in general, objects, properties, phenomena, etc., that surpass customary norms, or instruments designed to produce or deal with such things (ultramicroscope; ultrasound; ultrastructure ).

< Latin ultrā (adv. and preposition) on the far side (of), beyond, derivative of *ult(e)r- located beyond

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World English Dictionary
1.  beyond or surpassing a specified extent, range, or limit: ultramicroscopic
2.  extreme or extremely: ultramodern
[from Latin ultrā beyond; see ultra]

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Word Origin & History

prefix meaning "beyond" (ultraviolet) or "extremely" (ultramodern), from L. ultra- from ultra (adv. and prep.) "beyond, on the further side," from PIE *al- "beyond." In common use from early 19c., it appears to have arisen from Fr. political designations. As its own word, a noun meaning "extremist" of
various stripes, it is first recorded 1817, from Fr. ultra, shortening of ultra-royaliste "extreme royalist."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

ultra- pref.

  1. Beyond; on the other side of: ultraviolet.

  2. Beyond the range, scope, or limit of: ultrasonic.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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