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


disadvantaged; disadvantaging; disadvantages

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, disbenefit, 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

Schaeffer said there are disadvantages for edge providers that purchase interconnection from Comcast instead of buying transit from Cogent or other transit providers. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Comcast complains it will make less money under Calif. net neutrality law," 16 Oct. 2018 Even though the retailer is known for doling out coupons, its prices are still too high, analysts said, a disadvantage in an age when consumers are accustomed to searching out the best deals online. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Bed Bath & Beyond Struggles to Clear the Clutter, Close the Price Gap," 4 Oct. 2018 The result is a new disadvantage for US assembly plants, left as collateral damage in the escalating trade war. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "How Trump’s tariffs will hurt US tech companies," 18 Sep. 2018 As a party of the cities, today’s Democrats would find themselves at a disadvantage in any geographically based winner-takes-all electoral system in which receiving 99% of the vote is no better than getting 51%. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Baker cited one other reason for refusing to divulge how much Fight was paid to drop his wrongful termination suit: Public knowledge of the settlement's particulars might put the agency at a disadvantage in other lawsuits. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "KC’s bus agency says it’s above the law, can keep secrets from taxpayers," 1 June 2018 Surbaugh said that having separate units for boys and girls should alleviate concerns that girls joining the BSA for the first time might be at a disadvantage in seeking leadership opportunities. David Crary, Cincinnati.com, "With girls joining the ranks, Boy Scouts plan a name change," 2 May 2018 Surbaugh said that having separate units for boys and girls should alleviate concerns that girls joining the BSA for the first time might be at a disadvantage in seeking leadership opportunities. Christopher Harress, AL.com, "Mobile student arrested after threatening to kill classmates," 2 May 2018 This is the first time Walker has run for governor when his own party controls Washington, which can be a major disadvantage in mid-term elections. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wary of GOP complacency, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker braces for a possible 'blue wave'," 19 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Time and again, research has shown that public transport in American cities fails to give poorer residents access to jobs, both disadvantaging those individuals, and hampering city economies. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Ride-Hailing Apps May Benefit Poor and Minority Communities The Most, Study Suggests," 30 June 2018 California Republicans overwhelmingly voted for the House Obamacare repeal bill that would have devastated the state’s health care system, and the GOP tax law that disadvantages taxpayers in states like California the most. Tara Golshan, Vox, "How Kevin McCarthy led California Republicans astray," 30 Nov. 2018 Just as the argument that Facebook systematically disadvantages conservative voices can only be made in bad faith. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why Twitter should ignore the phony outrage over “shadow banning”," 27 July 2018 The opposition was disadvantaged because of the ruling party’s dominance of public media and the overlap between government and Fidesz campaign advertisements, the OSCE said. Bloomberg.com, "Zuckerberg Testifies Before Senate Panel," 10 Apr. 2018 That said, historically, the president’s party is disadvantaged going into the midterm elections, and Trump’s unpopularity isn’t doing Republicans any favors. Tara Golshan, Vox, "3 new polls show Democrats really could flip the House in November," 12 Sep. 2018 Princeton’s approach also resulted in a sudden downward spike in grades that disadvantaged its own students. Tom Solomon, Washington Post, "GPAs don’t really show what students learned. Here’s why.," 15 June 2018 That's dangerous, because women already tend to be disadvantaged by the Social Security system compared to men. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "The Republican plan for family leave would destroy your Social Security benefits," 23 Apr. 2018 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

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

11 Jan 2019

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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).


to gather or build up little by little

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