in·​fe·​ri·​or | \ in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio) \

Definition of inferior

1 : of little or less importance, value, or merit always felt inferior to his older brother
2a : of low or lower degree or rank
b : of poor quality : mediocre
3 : situated lower down : lower
4a : situated below another and especially another similar superior part of an upright body
b : situated in a relatively low posterior or ventral position in a quadrupedal body
c(1) : situated below another plant part or organ
(2) : abaxial
5 : relating to or being a subscript

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from inferior

inferior noun
inferiority \ (ˌ)in-​ˌfir-​ē-​ˈȯr-​ə-​tē How to pronounce inferiority (audio) , -​ˈär-​ \ noun
inferiorly \ in-​ˈfir-​ē-​ər-​lē How to pronounce inferiorly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for inferior



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of inferior in a Sentence

… the pearls were of inferior quality; they looked like pearlized globs of varying wrinkly shapes. — Tracie Rozhon, New York Times, 24 Aug. 2002 Sharks, rays, and ratfishes share a special burden: these cartilaginous fishes are saddled with a reputation for being somehow inferior to vertebrates blessed with bony skeletons. — Carl Zimmer, Natural History, September 2000 No longer do workers and peasants feel inferior to the university-trained. — Rhea Menzel Whitehead, Saturday Review, 4 Mar. 1972 These pearls are of inferior quality. They were considered a socially inferior group. He always felt inferior around his brother. The judges voted to overturn a ruling made by an inferior court.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Entire fields of racist pseudoscience were designed in the nineteenth century to back up the claim that Black minds were inferior and to deny Black people true personhood, to act as a rebuke to the growing abolitionist movement. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Academia Was Built on White Theft," 10 Sep. 2020 No honest person could compare the two administrations and conclude the Trump administration’s economic performance was inferior. Ed Conard, National Review, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Steve Rattner’s Statistics," 31 Aug. 2020 This isn't always the case, though—pretty much the entire world recognizes that Samsung's SoCs are inferior to Qualcomm, and Europe just gets the short end of the stick in this deal. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Galaxy Note 20 Ultra teardowns show two different cooling solutions," 25 Aug. 2020 Buried in this argument is an implicit admission by the districts that the crisis online learning the districts are providing is inferior to the education students could be receiving in pods. Jason Bedrick, National Review, "Why Parents Love ‘Pandemic Pods’ for School — but Bureaucrats Hate Them," 21 Aug. 2020 During that period—approximately day two or day three of an infection—antigen tests are truly inferior to PCR tests. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The Way Out," 14 Aug. 2020 Students at NYU Tisch School of the Arts demanded at least a partial refund on their tuition in the spring following the pivot to virtual classes, saying that the experience was inferior. Peter Aitken, Fox News, "Students demand tuition cuts as more colleges pivot to virtual learning," 23 Aug. 2020 They simply got worked by a supposedly inferior, but hungry team. oregonlive, "The 2011 Memphis Grizzlies best example what No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers want to be in quest to upset No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers," 18 Aug. 2020 His teachings, which held the widely disproven theories that African and African-American people were genetically distinct from and inferior to white people, were repeatedly used to justify slavery. Heidi Stevens,, "Column: Lakeview’s Agassiz Elementary will eventually drop name of racist scientist, CPS says. Why wait? Get rid of it now.," 6 Aug. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of inferior

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for inferior

Middle English, from Latin, comparative of inferus lower — more at under

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inferior

Time Traveler for inferior

Time Traveler

The first known use of inferior was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for inferior

Last Updated

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inferior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inferior


How to pronounce inferior (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of inferior

: of poor quality : low or lower in quality
: of little or less importance or value
: low or lower in rank


in·​fe·​ri·​or | \ in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio) \

Kids Definition of inferior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : situated lower down (as in place or importance) an inferior court
2 : of little or less importance, value, or merit He always felt inferior to his brother.
3 : of poor quality an inferior education



Kids Definition of inferior (Entry 2 of 2)

: a less important person or thing


in·​fe·​ri·​or | \ in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio) \

Medical Definition of inferior

1 : situated below and closer to the feet than another and especially another similar part of an upright body especially of a human being — compare superior sense 1
2 : situated in a more posterior or ventral position in the body of a quadruped — compare superior sense 2

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of inferior

: of lower status, rank, or priority

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on inferior

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!