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 Plenty of Angelenos have either suffered from or enforced (or both) our city’s inferiority complex vis-a-vis New York. Margaret Gray, Los Angeles Times, "Review: The one-man show for Angelenos sick of everybody who loves New York," 23 Dec. 2020 This rapid decline, while common to so many former gold rush towns in Alaska, in Anchorage fed a rapidly growing inferiority complex. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Mud, fires and bootlegging: What daily life looked like in the early years of Anchorage," 9 Nov. 2020 The inferiority complex toward Germany is as pervasive today in France as the tremendous mistrust in how the government, embodied by Macron, handled the crisis. Rachel Donadio, The New York Review of Books, "France: After Lockdown, the Street," 24 June 2020 Jakob also has a massive brother inferiority complex that Charlize Theron's returning villain Cipher happily exploits to get Jakob to kill Dom. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'Furious 9' trailer surprises with John Cena's brother villain, shocking return of Han," 31 Jan. 2020 Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the cold war, suffered no inferiority complex; at the time, few Russians regretted the withdrawal of Soviet troops from eastern and central Europe. The Economist, "The ironies of revolution A love affair with liberal democracy that soured," 9 Jan. 2020 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

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.

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First Known Use of inferiority complex

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of inferiority complex was in 1922

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Statistics for inferiority complex

Last Updated

27 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inferiority complex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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

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