inferiority complex


Definition of inferiority complex

1 : an acute sense of personal inferiority often resulting either in timidity or through overcompensation in exaggerated aggressiveness
2 : a collective sense of cultural, regional, or national inferiority

Examples of inferiority complex in a Sentence

His shyness is the result of an inferiority complex.
Recent Examples on the Web In Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, preparing to step down after eight years as president with an approval rating of 75%, proclaimed that his country had shed its inferiority complex. The Economist, "Latin America’s second “lost decade” is not as bad as the first," 12 Dec. 2019 Forbes explains his feelings were reflective of a slight inferiority complex, the Tall Poppy Syndrome, for which Australians say they are known. John Kell, Fortune, "How Australian Winemakers Are Distancing Themselves From the Country’s Reputation for Cheap Bottles," 8 Dec. 2019 Gray was an indifferent student who cheated on tests, and the new surroundings fed an inferiority complex. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "James Gray’s Journey from the Outer Boroughs to Outer Space," 9 Sep. 2019 This plot gets rolled into a high-school trip, bundling Peter’s superhero inferiority complex with the more routine issues of his big crush on MJ and his efforts to keep his costumed identity secret from his classmates. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," 27 June 2019 The Aggies haven’t won a national championship since FDR was president, and this produces a massive inferiority complex in the fan base that might be America’s most passionate. Andy Staples,, "The Message Behind the Money: How Texas A&M Landed Jimbo Fisher," 28 June 2018 For a place with a civic inferiority complex but a rising profile in some tangible ways, this is heady stuff. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "The importance of Kansas City hearing 'yes' about the World Cup," 13 June 2018 As veteran Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn documents, Simon became one of America’s foremost songwriters largely because the world so dependably inflamed his inferiority complex. Steve Almond,, "Songs of insecurity and of experience," 23 May 2018 Always responding to Barkley’s jabs just reinforces the contention of some that San Antonio has a major inferiority complex. Jim Lefko, San Antonio Express-News, "Sports writers discuss: Did the Saints jump the gun on UTSA's Davenport?," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inferiority complex.' 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 inferiority complex

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inferiority complex

Time Traveler for inferiority complex

Time Traveler

The first known use of inferiority complex was in 1922

See more words from the same year

Statistics for inferiority complex

Last Updated

22 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Inferiority complex.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inferiority complex

inferiority complex


English Language Learners Definition of inferiority complex

: a belief that you are less worthy or important than other people

inferiority complex


Medical Definition of inferiority complex

: an acute sense of personal inferiority resulting either in timidity or through overcompensation in exaggerated aggressiveness

More from Merriam-Webster on inferiority complex Encyclopedia article about inferiority complex

Comments on inferiority complex

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


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!