se·nior·i·ty | \sēn-ˈyȯr-ə-tē, -ˈyär-\

Definition of seniority 

1 : the quality or state of being senior : priority

2 : a privileged status attained by length of continuous service (as in a company)

Examples of seniority in a Sentence

Promotions are based on merit and seniority. a teacher with less seniority He has worked here longer than I have, so he has seniority over me.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The official said the administration would also make performance a more important factor than seniority when agencies undertake layoffs. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, "Trump Moves to Ease the Firing of Federal Workers," 25 May 2018 The system gives no preference to seniority, Cassidy said, compelling some employees to sleep in their car outside the casino to be near the head of the line to request Christmas Day off. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Caesars Windsor set to resume strike talks as Detroit casinos see gains," 14 May 2018 Both Koreas are bound by Confucian hierarchical rules that prize age and maleness and stipulate who should sit where according to seniority. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "The ‘Ivanka Trump of North Korea’ captivates people in the South at the Olympics," 10 Feb. 2018 First and foremost, of course, there's Strom Thurmond, the Dixiecrat presidential candidate, who was welcomed into the GOP in 1964 -- and, importantly, allowed to keep his seniority and thus all the power that came with it in Congress. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Dinesh D’Souza gets a history lesson on Twitter.," 3 July 2018 The union said the steelmaker is also seeking concessions in active and retiree health care, incentive and vacation pay, family and medical leave, contracting out jobs, seniority and scheduling. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "NW Indiana steel contract talks start with sides far apart," 13 July 2018 Her victory means three of Baltimore’s six state senators were toppled by younger delegates in their districts, bringing a generational shift to the city’s legislative delegation in Annapolis — and also a loss of seniority and leadership positions. Michael Dresser,, "Mary Washington claims victory in Maryland Senate race against Joan Carter Conway," 6 July 2018 That makes Bacon a veteran, and typically second-round picks aren’t around the Charlotte Hornets long enough to claim seniority. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Why Charlotte Hornets' new coaching staff likes a big slice of Dwayne Bacon," 3 July 2018 Atir and Ferguson checked whether gender was just acting as a stand-in for seniority of the professor, but that turned out not to be the case. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Why Curie’s no Einstein: A subtle gender bias in science," 29 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about seniority

Statistics for seniority

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for seniority

The first known use of seniority was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for seniority



English Language Learners Definition of seniority

: the amount of time you have worked at a job or for a company compared to other employees

: the state of having a higher rank than another person


se·nior·i·ty | \sēn-ˈyȯr-ə-tē \

Legal Definition of seniority 

1 : the quality or state of being senior

2 : the senior status attained by length of continuous service (as in a company) also : the length of such continuous service

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on seniority

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


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

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!