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

Soybean plants pictured in Urbana, Ill. A group of black soybean farmers from the South say a company intentionally sold them defective seeds in an elaborate scheme to place them at a disadvantage because of their race. Kristine Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Black soybean farmers say they were deliberately sold defective seeds because of their race," 12 July 2018 Along the sides of zebras, vertical black stripes simply absorb sunlight without being tempered by this phenomenon, putting most of the zebra’s body at a thermoregulatory disadvantage. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Settling a Heated Debate—Do Zebra Stripes Keep These Animals Cool?," 10 July 2018 Senate Democrats are at a slight but critical numbers disadvantage going into the SCOTUS confirmation process, holding 49 seats to the GOP’s 51. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Trump's Supreme Court Pick May Come From This List. Here's Where They Stand on Women's Issues.," 9 July 2018 Without a free pass to pollute, the carriage operators who had been leaving dead horses in the streets were at a disadvantage when a new technology came along that didn’t produce piles of manure and leave carcasses behind. Nathanael Johnson, WIRED, "Where Can Climate Activists Find Common Ground?," 9 July 2018 Morrisey delivered a commanding win in June and certainly has time to change the race, but is so far running at a distinct disadvantage. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Power Rankings: Not so peachy primaries," 9 July 2018 Teams like the Thunder and Wizards are now at a disadvantage paying massive money to keep flawed stars like Westbrook and John Wall. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "The NBA is Broken, But Not Because of DeMarcus Cousins," 5 July 2018 But any Democrat on the ballot will have a huge disadvantage. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Meet the Democrat trying to unseat scandal-plagued Rep. Jim Jordan in his heavily Republican district," 11 July 2018 Poorer people in many countries suffer disadvantages in education, but in China such problems are magnified by government spending on schools that is heavily skewed in favour of cities. The Economist, "The world’s most important exam is flawed," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

1 Nov 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).


playful or foolish behavior

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