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

That gap can span several hours or several days, putting individuals — particularly low-income Americans — at a disadvantage. BostonGlobe.com, "Gunmakers’ stock rises following mass shootings," 6 Aug. 2019 If Brady or Jackson, or any other quarterback the Dolphins face this season, employ a no-huddle, tempo offense at points during their games this season, the Dolphins’ defense could be at a disadvantage. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Here’s one area where the new Miami Dolphins defense could struggle this season," 1 Aug. 2019 The agency said that imbalance put U.S. companies needing foreign talent at a competitive disadvantage. Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, "H-1B: Judge revives lawsuit seeking to kill foreign-student work permit, allows input from Big Tech and outsourcers," 5 July 2019 But the companies' refineries have been operating at a competitive disadvantage with refineries elsewhere in the country, according to its bankruptcy filing last year. Chris Isidore, CNN, "The Philadelphia refinery that exploded had a history of financial trouble," 21 June 2019 The Pac-12 members are operating at a staggering financial disadvantage, especially to their Power Five peers in the SEC and Big Ten. oregonlive.com, "Canzano: Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott prepares for football media day with a hoops weekend in Oregon," 21 July 2019 California’s children still are below average in national reading tests, which puts them at a disadvantage in acquiring other basic educational skills. Dan Walters, The Mercury News, "Walters: Criticism kills California bill to nix reading teacher test," 14 July 2019 Still, that carrier would be operating at a significant disadvantage. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "The T-Mobile-Sprint merger will blow past another deadline," 11 July 2019 His potential disadvantages are that, as Democrats have moved to the left, those moderate Obama-era positions, on immigration, foreign policy, health care and so forth, are no longer so popular. Lexington | Washington, The Economist, "Joe Biden struggles in the Democratic primary debate," 28 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Somehow, the pursuit of public safety always ends up disadvantaging the other party’s political efforts. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "The Reflex toward Illiberal Democracy," 7 Aug. 2019 Congress last year let that tax rate lapse and revert to 1977 levels of up to 50 cents per ton, after industry leaders argued the expense could further disadvantage coal. BostonGlobe.com, "Biden, scrutinized for crime bill, unveils plan to reduce mass incarceration," 24 July 2019 Hours after Thiel's comments were reported, Fox Business reporter Charlie Gasparino said on Twitter that the White House is preparing a crackdown on Google for supposedly disadvantaging conservatives in search results. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "Trump says he'll look at Peter Thiel's accusation that Google is committing treason," 16 July 2019 Even worse, the signal victories of the civil rights movement, which convinced many white Americans discrimination was a thing of the past, came just as economic structures were disadvantaging those who had missed out. Calvin Schermerhorn, Twin Cities, "Calvin Schermerhorn: Why the racial wealth gap persists more than 150 years after emancipation," 27 June 2019 These two compensation systems, which were outlined by U.S. Soccer in its official response to the lawsuit, benefit some players and disadvantage others. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "What Mediation Means for U.S. Soccer, USWNT in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit," 21 June 2019 There’s only one problem: The disadvantaged don’t always want that kind of help. Bobby Jindal, WSJ, "The Left’s Idea of Generosity," 3 Feb. 2019 Patients in rural or inner city areas or at community hospitals that lack staff to work on special requests may be disadvantaged. sun-sentinel.com, "US aims to help more cancer patients try experimental drugs," 3 June 2019 Investors holding defaulted Venezuela bonds have expressed alarm that such rulings or bond payments by Venezuela could disadvantage the country’s other creditors. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Venezuela Uses Bonds to Pay Settlement With Mining Company," 16 Aug. 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

9 Aug 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 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).


to shake or wave menacingly

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