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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web An Amazon spokesman called the lobbying effort a self-serving campaign that could end up requiring customers to use inferior technology. Aaron Tilley, WSJ, 27 July 2022 But overall less sophisticated with inferior electronic architecture. Brad Lendon, CNN, 27 July 2022 In a playoff where bids are awarded solely via at-large selection, those two growing superpowers would gobble up a majority of the spots, while teams in inferior conferences fought for scraps. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 21 July 2022 Implicit in his statement was the belief that centering vaccine-supply lines in the developing world was an inferior option. Vidya Krishnan, The Atlantic, 18 July 2022 Stoddard says a leading cause of poor morale inside of companies is the use of inferior tools. Rich Karlgaard, Forbes, 12 July 2022 My mama and daddy worked, paid taxes, but their son had to attend an inferior school. Kyla Guilfoil, ABC News, 12 July 2022 In fact, the movie often plays like another Stranger Things dilution, watering down the paperback thrills of literature’s reigning master of horror into an inferior throwback substitution. A.a. Dowd, Rolling Stone, 23 June 2022 But traction feels noticeably inferior to a Camry's. Phil Berg, Car and Driver, 15 July 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near inferior



inferior conjunction

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Statistics for inferior

Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inferior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for inferior


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



Legal Definition of inferior

: of lower status, rank, or priority

More from Merriam-Webster on inferior

Nglish: Translation of inferior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inferior for Arabic Speakers


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