dis·ad·van·tage | \ ˌdis-əd-ˈvan-tij \

Definition of disadvantage 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : loss or damage especially to reputation, credit, or finances : detriment the deal worked to their disadvantage

2a : an unfavorable, inferior, or prejudicial condition we were at a disadvantage

b : a quality or circumstance that makes achievement unusually difficult : handicap his lack of formal schooling was a serious disadvantage



Definition of disadvantage (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to place at a disadvantage : harm

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Synonyms & Antonyms for disadvantage

Synonyms: Noun

debit, downside, drawback, handicap, incommodity, liability, minus, negative, strike

Antonyms: Noun

advantage, asset, edge, plus

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Examples of disadvantage in a Sentence


She had the disadvantage of growing up in a poor community. They argued that the new regulations would place their company at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. There are advantages and disadvantages to the new system.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On this the Power Five should agree: There is nothing to lose — no inherent advantage or disadvantage for any one program — in providing a weekly report listing which players will not play on a given Saturday. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "It's time for college football, NCAA to embrace injury reports with gambling influence rising," 3 July 2018 Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Elizabeth Price Foley, WSJ, "Mueller’s Fruit of the Poisonous Tree," 22 June 2018 There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, so the decision may not be an easy one. Kenya Burell-vanwormer, Houston Chronicle, "Realtor View: Which home is right for you — new or resale?," 20 May 2018 The best format for you depends on your unique situation as each format has its own advantages and disadvantages. Dear Sam, OregonLive.com, "How should I format my resume? There are 3 main options," 20 Apr. 2018 The uncertainty surrounding the coming leadership struggle could confer advantages or disadvantages to those already clinging to the rungs of power, depending on who wins. Kevin Diaz And Bill Lambrecht, San Antonio Express-News, "Ryan’s departure from the House sets off a scramble in GOP ranks," 11 Apr. 2018 Here are some of the candidates' advantages and disadvantages: Longtime Madison Mayor Paul Soglin had the next highest favorable rating in the Marquette poll, with 15% of voters seeing him favorably. Jason Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Democratic field for Wisconsin governor is still a jumble with no clear front-runner," 9 Mar. 2018 Katie May’s refreshingly probing script follows a middle-aged white woman navigating her advantages and disadvantages. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Between Us’ makes a history of revolutions as intimate as a whisper," 20 Feb. 2018 Amis sees his outsider status as both an advantage and a disadvantage. Mary Kaye Schilling, Newsweek, "Martin Amis Takes Aim at Donald Trump, Questions Stormy Daniels and Celebrates Meghan Markle," 5 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This development comes as welcome news to the Swiss side, who would have been left considerably disadvantaged for their crucial clash with Costa Rica on Wednesday, with two of their best players unavailable. SI.com, "Switzerland Stars Escape With Fines as FIFA Decide Against Ban for Controversial Celebration," 25 June 2018 Such a shift will also disadvantage Tesla as other companies, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi also bring their own electric competitors to market. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Scott Pruitt is still under investigation by EPA watchdog," 13 July 2018 As of this week, the FCC is no longer acting as a watchdog over efforts by content distributors — AT&T, say — to disadvantage content providers competing with their own subsidiaries — Time Warner, say. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "The blueprint for the disastrous AT&T-Time Warner deal was written years ago by the Comcast-NBC merger," 12 June 2018 There is broad agreement that China has engaged in unfair trade practices that have disadvantaged US companies. Ana Swanson, BostonGlobe.com, "In trade war, White House says Beijing has more to lose," 19 June 2018 The idea that his shopworn knees disadvantage him on a court with low bounces? Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Five Thoughts From Day Two at Wimbledon," 3 July 2018 Over the last few years, Google has been accused of disadvantaging its own competition by using its search engine to steer users toward its other businesses — to its own local listings instead of Yelp’s, for example. Robert Levine, BostonGlobe.com, "Google is hugely powerful. Is antitrust law up to the job?," 13 June 2018 The end result is that voters in California and New York and Texas are systematically disadvantaged in national policy relative to their counterparts in smaller, rural states. Sean Illing, Vox, "Why this political scientist thinks the Democrats have to fight dirty," 11 June 2018 Ultimately, these companies gain outsize pricing power, which promotes larger and less efficient companies while disadvantaging consumers. Dambisa Moyo, Time, "The False Promises of Protectionism," 22 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disadvantage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disadvantage


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1550, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for disadvantage


Middle English disavauntage, from Anglo-French desavantage, from des- dis- + avantage advantage

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for disadvantage

The first known use of disadvantage was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for disadvantage



English Language Learners Definition of disadvantage

: something that causes difficulty : something that makes someone or something worse or less likely to succeed than others

: a bad or undesirable quality or feature

: loss, damage, or harm


dis·ad·van·tage | \ ˌdis-əd-ˈvan-tij \

Kids Definition of disadvantage

: a state or condition that favors someone else Our late start was a disadvantage in the race.

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Comments on disadvantage

What made you want to look up disadvantage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

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