I am confused between usage of word ‘LATEST’. Basically, it is being used in two opposite situations:
1. meaning late or last – “Return my book latest by Monday”
2. meaning most recent – “This is the latest book.”
How is “latest” is used in 2 opposite contexts?
English is often blamed for confusion and ambiguity that stems not from the language, but from the use of the language.
As an adjective, latest has the meaning “most recent.” Ex. This is the latest book. Here’s the latest news.
In order to use “latest” adverbially, with the meaning “at the last possible moment,” it needs to be placed in a phrase. Ex. Return my book on Monday at the latest.
Here are some quotations with the correct use of the term on newspapers:
… jacket, the artist Christo stood on a platform looking over the Serpentine lake one April morning and watched his latest creation come to life. As ducks glided across the water, men in orange jumpsuits began assembling the installation … (www.nytimes.com)
… of strategy and doctrine on cyberwarfare is less a product of inattention than of the still-early stage of this latest technology of destruction. The lack of doctrine and especially the lack of consensus on controlling destructive … (www.nytimes.com)