inferiority complex


: an acute sense of personal inferiority often resulting either in timidity or through overcompensation in exaggerated aggressiveness
: 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 There is no inferiority complex, no crisis of confidence about facing the team that reached the championship game of this tournament a year ago. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Mar. 2024 Law enforcement believes Polito's attack was prompted by an inferiority complex and delusions of grandeur about himself, according to the investigative report. Alex Stone, ABC News, 29 Jan. 2024 Two years ago, Halftime portrayed Lopez as struggling against a deep inferiority complex. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 16 Feb. 2024 Which is to say that Sacramento, once known as ground zero for inferiority complexes in the Golden State, finally seems to be defining itself on its own terms, instead of in comparison to others. Chris MacIas and Tim Swanson, Sacramento Bee, 31 Jan. 2024 Russians have always vacillated between wanting to be included and fearing contamination or corruption, from harboring an inferiority complex to delusions of grandeur. Elettra Pauletto, Harper's Magazine, 11 Dec. 2023 But Evangelicals have an inferiority complex that Catholics do not have. Andrew T. Walker, National Review, 31 Dec. 2023 Advertisement Still, other projects may conjure comparisons to the story of Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband, Guy, a man who is easily duped into a Faustian bargain thanks to his single-mindedness and inferiority complex. Whitney Friedlander, Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2023 But Hints believes that Estonia – like the other Baltic nations – suffers from an inferiority complex. John Bleasdale, Variety, 18 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inferiority complex.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of inferiority complex was in 1922

Dictionary Entries Near inferiority complex

Cite this Entry

“Inferiority complex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

inferiority complex

: a personal sense of being inferior that may be expressed by behavior that is either timid or aggressive

Medical Definition

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

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