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

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Other Words from inferior

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for inferior



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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Instead, everyday purchases, such as buying groceries and filling up your gas tank, are in the inferior 2% cash back bucket. Jennifer Yellin, CNN Underscored, "Cash is king: The best cash back credit cards for 2021," 3 Jan. 2021 September 1956: Due to inferior construction and poor planning, the Cabrini Rowhouses are named in an estimated $6 million rehabilitation project of CHA properties. Kori Rumore,, "From ‘war workers’ to ‘Good Times,’ Jane Byrne and demolition: Timeline of Cabrini-Green," 20 Dec. 2020 District leaders acknowledge that online learning is inferior to in-person learning. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Worsening pandemic is driving more San Diego County students back to online learning," 17 Dec. 2020 While quantum computers are still largely inferior to today’s basic desktop computers, the experiments give customers a taste of what’s possible. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Quantum computing is entering a new dimension," 3 Dec. 2020 My parents knew how to operate in a racist and segregated society supported by policies and social norms that upheld the notion that blacks, being inferior, were not entitled to full rights and protections as citizens. Washington Post, "I learned early how to survive racism. Now we all need to learn how to fight it.," 23 Nov. 2020 Is a wine with few pairing possibilities necessarily inferior to one... Lettie Teague, WSJ, "Are Some Wines Simply Impossible to Pair With Food?," 24 Nov. 2020 With upcoming games against the then-winless Lions, supposedly inferior Panthers and still-winless Jets, a lot of people were predicting a 5-0 start for Arizona. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, "Cardinals enter Sunday's game at Jets feeling as if they are in a 'must-win' situation," 10 Oct. 2020 Abolitionists claimed that the eloquence of slaves and Africans proved their equal humanity, but most Europeans had long taken for granted that black utterances were inherently inferior, even bestial. Fara Dabhoiwala, The New York Review of Books, "Speech and Slavery in the West Indies," 3 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for inferior

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for inferior

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inferior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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

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Legal Definition of inferior

: of lower status, rank, or priority

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