dis·​ad·​van·​tage | \ ˌdis-əd-ˈvan-tij How to pronounce disadvantage (audio) \

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

Some Republicans argue that reducing domestic emissions could put America at a competitive disadvantage. Ryan Costello, WSJ, "Lesson From 2018: Republicans Must Deal With Climate Change," 7 Jan. 2019 Such notions about the disadvantages of middleness are pervasive. Adam Sternbergh, The Cut, "The Extinction of the Middle Child," 11 July 2018 The Stage: An elevated stage with flat flooring can diminish the audience’s view of musicians, but the visual disadvantages are outweighed by the positive effect on hearing. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Science of Music," 15 June 2018 And how her milk is probably not GOOD enough because of her age, to the disadvantage of the baby. Blake Bakkila, Health.com, "The Epic Way This Mom Clapped Back When She Was Told She Was Too Old to Breastfeed," 2 Apr. 2018 The advantage would be a shorter construction time but the disadvantage would be returning to the coastal agency for the design change. Roger Showley, sandiegouniontribune.com, "New hotel tax could generate $1.4B even more for homeless, street repair spending," 17 Jan. 2018 Opponents of the current system say the rules unfairly disadvantage artists and limit music publishers from striking their own licensing deals, leading to musicians earning... Anne Steele, WSJ, "Washington Considers Overhaul of Music-Licensing Rules," 26 Feb. 2019 All these disadvantages mean that women generally have less saved up for retirement. Ellen Sheng, Marie Claire, "Women Need to Think About Investing Differently Than Men," 30 Jan. 2019 The organization supports families who experiencing poverty, disadvantage, or social isolation across the U.K., according to its official website. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears a Green Belted Midi Dress to Visit Family Action Charity," 22 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the system by and large favors kids who know financing their college education won’t be an issue, further disadvantaging low-income students in a process that already sidelines them. James Wellemeyer, Teen Vogue, "Applying to College Early Is a Privilege Not Every Student Can Afford," 20 Mar. 2019 Some older job seekers lack the right skills or are unable or unwilling to relocate, while others are disadvantaged by new ways of recruiting, such as online tools that use key words to identify candidates for interviews. Ruth Simon, WSJ, "‘Just Unbearable.’ Booming Job Market Can’t Fill the Retirement Shortfall," 20 Dec. 2018 But administration officials insisted that any solutions shouldn’t disadvantage rural areas by treating them differently from urban areas. Paul Ziobro, WSJ, "Postal Service Review Proposes Sweeping Changes Likely to Hit Amazon," 4 Dec. 2018 On one hand, this makes sense; Trump has had a consistently low approval rating, and the political party in power is usually disadvantaged in the midterm elections. Tara Golshan, Vox, "2018 Republican nominees don’t want to talk about Trump," 20 Aug. 2018 In a September letter to U.S. trade authorities, the iPhone maker said tariffs would disadvantage the company compared with foreign competitors and lead to higher U.S. consumer prices. Bob Davis, WSJ, "Trump Expects to Move Ahead With Boost on China Tariffs," 26 Nov. 2018 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

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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Statistics for disadvantage

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce disadvantage (audio) \

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).


an act or instance of returning to life

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