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adjective sub·or·di·nate \sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət, -ˈbȯrd-nət\

Simple Definition of subordinate

  • : in a position of less power or authority than someone else

  • : less important than someone or something else

Full Definition of subordinate

  1. 1 :  placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position :  inferior <a subordinate officer>

  2. 2 :  submissive to or controlled by authority

  3. 3a :  of, relating to, or constituting a clause that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverbb :  subordinating

sub·or·di·nate·ly adverb
sub·or·di·nate·ness noun

Examples of subordinate

  1. About two-thirds of the way through, this nonsense comes to life for fifteen minutes when the point of view shifts to that of a subordinate character, an aging thug (well played by Laurence Fishburne) who is employed by the casino to spot card counters. —Richard Alleva, Commonweal, May 9, 2008

  2. A reporter's right to protect a source is a subordinate matter that obfuscates the more important issue of violating journalistic integrity and responsibility when one becomes an agent, if not a pawn, of a mean-spirited and vindictive retaliation scheme. —Jon Duffey, Editor & Publisher, 13 Oct. 2003

  3. She was thirty-three, furiously frustrated with her subordinate role in the studio—attending to the model's hair, makeup, and clothes—and chronically dissatisfied with her own pictures, which represented a different kind of woman's work. —Judith Thurman, New Yorker, 13 Oct. 2003

  4. <his contention is that environment plays a subordinate role to heredity in determining what we become>

Origin of subordinate

Middle English subordinat, from Medieval Latin subordinatus, past participle of subordinare to subordinate, from Latin sub- + ordinare to order — more at ordain

First Known Use: 15th century



noun sub·or·di·nate \sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət, -ˈbȯrd-nət\

Simple Definition of subordinate

  • : someone who has less power or authority than someone else : someone who is subordinate to someone else

Full Definition of subordinate

  1. :  one who stands in order or rank below another :  one that is subordinate

Examples of subordinate

  1. Case in point: the dismissal of advertising chief Julie Roehm, accused of having an affair with a subordinate (also fired) and taking freebies from an advertising agency (also fired) in violation of company policies. —Bill Saporito, Time, 12 Nov. 2007

  2. He ran an extremely unhappy headquarters. He tended to berate subordinates, frequently shouting and cursing at them. —Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco, 2006

  3. She also found it impossible to give negative feedback. As a consequence, her work and that of her subordinates started to suffer, and she was missing deadlines. —Steven Berglas, Harvard Business Review, June 2002

  4. She leaves the day-to-day running of the firm to her subordinates.

  5. <subordinates do most of the actual creation of the famous designer's clothing designs>

Origin of subordinate

(see 1subordinate)

First Known Use: 1640

Rhymes with subordinate

abbreviate, abominate, accelerate, accentuate, accommodate, acculturate, accumulate, adjudicate, adulterate, affiliate, agglomerate, alienate, alleviate, alliterate, amalgamate, ameliorate, amyl nitrate, annihilate, annunciate, anticipate, apostolate, appreciate, appropriate, approximate, arpeggiate, articulate, asphyxiate, assassinate, asseverate, assimilate, associate, at any rate, attenuate, authenticate, barbiturate, bicarbonate, calumniate, capacitate, capitulate, catholicate, certificate, coagulate, coelenterate, collaborate, commemorate, commiserate, communicate, compassionate, concatenate, conciliate, confabulate, confederate, conglomerate, congratulate, consolidate, contaminate, cooperate, coordinate, corroborate, deactivate, debilitate, decapitate, decelerate, decerebrate, deconcentrate, deconsecrate, decorticate, decrepitate, de-escalate, defibrinate, defoliate, degenerate, deliberate, delineate, demodulate, denominate, depopulate, depreciate, deracinate, deregulate, desegregate, desiderate, detoxicate, devaluate, diaconate, dilapidate, discriminate, disintegrate, disseminate, dissimulate, dissociate, domesticate, effectuate, ejaculate, elaborate, electroplate, eliminate, elucidate, emaciate, emancipate, emasculate, encapsulate, enumerate, enunciate, episcopate, equivocate, eradicate, etiolate, evacuate, evaluate, evaporate, eventuate, eviscerate, exacerbate, exaggerate, exasperate, excited state, excogitate, excoriate, exfoliate, exhilarate, exonerate, expatiate, expatriate, expectorate, expostulate, expropriate, extenuate, exterminate, extrapolate, facilitate, felicitate, fish or cut bait, garrison state, gesticulate, habilitate, habituate, hallucinate, humiliate, hydrogenate, hypothecate, illuminate, impersonate, inactivate, inaugurate, incarcerate, incinerate, incorporate, incriminate, indoctrinate, inebriate, infatuate, infuriate, ingratiate, ingurgitate, initiate, inoculate, inseminate, insinuate, instantiate, intercalate, interpolate, interrelate, interrogate, intimidate, intoxicate, invalidate, investigate, invigorate, irradiate, Italianate, Korea Strait, lanceolate, legitimate, luxuriate, mandarinate, manipulate, matriarchate, matriculate, Merthiolate, necessitate, negotiate, noncandidate, obliterate, officiate, Orange Free State, orientate, originate, oxygenate, participate, particulate, patriarchate, patriciate, perambulate, peregrinate, perpetuate, pontificate, precipitate, predestinate, predominate, prefabricate, premeditate, preponderate, prevaricate, procrastinate, prognosticate, proliferate, propitiate, proportionate, quadruplicate, quintuplicate, reciprocate, recriminate, recuperate, redecorate, reduplicate, reeducate, refrigerate, regenerate, regurgitate, reincarnate, reintegrate, reiterate, rejuvenate, remunerate, repatriate, repudiate, resuscitate, retaliate, reticulate, revaluate, reverberate, scholasticate, second estate, self-flagellate, self-immolate, self-pollinate, seventy-eight, sextuplicate, Singapore Strait, sophisticate, substantiate, syllabicate, tergiversate, transliterate, triangulate, vanity plate, variegate, vaticinate, vituperate, vociferate



transitive verb sub·or·di·nate \sə-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnāt\

Simple Definition of subordinate

  • : to think of or treat (someone or something) as less important than someone or something else

Full Definition of subordinate


  1. 1 :  to make subject or subservient

  2. 2 :  to treat as of less value or importance <stylist … whose crystalline prose subordinates content to form — Susan Heath>

sub·or·di·na·tion play \-ˌbȯr-də-ˈnā-shən\ noun
sub·or·di·na·tive play \-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnā-tiv\ adjective

Examples of subordinate

  1. Clinton administration Trade Representative Mickey Kantor declared: “The days when we could afford to subordinate our economic interests to foreign policy or defense concerns are long past.” —Lawrence F. Kaplan, New Republic, 18 Mar. 2002

  2. The real reason, though, is that art survives life, and this unpalatable realization lies behind the lumpen desire to subordinate the former to the latter. The finite always mistakes the permanent for the infinite and nurtures designs upon it. —Joseph Brodsky, Times Literary Supplement, 26 Oct. 1990

  3. <it is one of the lessons of history that more powerful civilizations often subordinate weaker ones>

Origin of subordinate

Medieval Latin subordinatus (see 1subordinate)

First Known Use: 1597

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February 11, 2016

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