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

Definition of inferior

1 : situated lower down : lower
2a : of low or lower degree or rank
b : of poor quality : mediocre
3 : of little or less importance, value, or merit always felt inferior to his older brother
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 inferiority (audio) , -​ˈär-​ \ noun
inferiorly \ in-​ˈfir-​ē-​ər-​lē How to pronounce inferiorly (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 But much like the Playmobil toys, with their poky feet and weird, lobster-like hands, ‘Playmobil: The Movie’ is similar but inferior to the Lego equivalent. Jason Wilson, Washington Post, "Playmobil’s Plan to Infiltrate Your Workplace," 23 Dec. 2019 Many people are uncomfortable with the president leveraging America’s superior power to extract concessions from an inferior. Luke Thompson, National Review, "Why Trump Did Nothing Wrong in His Phone Call with Zelensky," 29 Sep. 2019 School administrators and teachers fully engaged in the discrimination, making clear that blonds were inferior and not wanted at the school. oregonlive, "A Maryland school discriminated against blond-haired students 50 years ago, leading to lawsuit threat, ‘big impact’," 30 Dec. 2019 Allec, the sticky paste left in the strainer, was also widely traded but considered inferior to garum. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Ancient Roman Fish Sauce Factory Unearthed in Israel," 19 Dec. 2019 The Vikings have an infamous history of struggling and sometimes collapsing against inferior teams. Bob Sansevere, Twin Cities, "Bob Sansevere: Vikings rewrite their history with epic comeback," 17 Nov. 2019 But part of Indiana’s maturation as a program has to involve making easy work of inferior teams by dominating them defensively. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Straight A's for IU football after dominating victory over Northwestern," 3 Nov. 2019 United have to date showed no suggestion of being able to break inferior teams down, and their results and league position reflect that., "7 Managers That Won't Last in Their Jobs: 90min Experts Predict Which Coaches Will Leave This Season," 23 Oct. 2019 In this respect, the Dolphins, though clearly an inferior football team, are less of a mess than the Redskins. Jody Rosen, The New Yorker, "The Miami Dolphins and the Art of Losing to “Win”," 19 Oct. 2019

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 1

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

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inferior.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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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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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).


good-natured easy friendliness

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