subordinate

adjective
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət How to pronounce subordinate (audio) , -ˈbȯrd-nət\

Definition of subordinate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position : inferior a subordinate officer
2 : submissive to or controlled by authority
3a : of, relating to, or constituting a clause that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb

subordinate

noun
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət How to pronounce subordinate (audio) , -ˈbȯrd-nət\

Definition of subordinate (Entry 2 of 3)

: one who stands in order or rank below another : one that is subordinate

subordinate

verb
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnāt How to pronounce subordinate (audio) \
subordinated; subordinating

Definition of subordinate (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to make subject or subservient
2 : to treat as of less value or importance stylist … whose crystalline prose subordinates content to form— Susan Heath

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Other Words from subordinate

Adjective

subordinately adverb
subordinateness noun

Verb

subordination \ sə-​ˌbȯr-​də-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce subordination (audio) \ noun
subordinative \ sə-​ˈbȯr-​də-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce subordinative (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for subordinate

Synonyms: Adjective

inferior, junior, less, lesser, lower, minor, smaller

Synonyms: Noun

inferior, junior, underling

Synonyms: Verb

conquer, dominate, overpower, pacify, subdue, subject, subjugate, vanquish

Antonyms: Adjective

greater, higher, major, more, primary, prime, senior, superior, superordinate

Antonyms: Noun

senior, superior

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Examples of subordinate in a Sentence

Adjective

About two-thirds of the way through, this nonsense comes to life for fifteen minutes when the point of view shifts to that of a subordinate character, an aging thug (well played by Laurence Fishburne) who is employed by the casino to spot card counters. — Richard Alleva, Commonweal, May 9, 2008 A reporter's right to protect a source is a subordinate matter that obfuscates the more important issue of violating journalistic integrity and responsibility when one becomes an agent, if not a pawn, of a mean-spirited and vindictive retaliation scheme. — Jon Duffey, Editor & Publisher, 13 Oct. 2003 She was thirty-three, furiously frustrated with her subordinate role in the studio—attending to the model's hair, makeup, and clothes—and chronically dissatisfied with her own pictures, which represented a different kind of woman's work. — Judith Thurman, New Yorker, 13 Oct. 2003 his contention is that environment plays a subordinate role to heredity in determining what we become

Noun

Case in point: the dismissal of advertising chief Julie Roehm, accused of having an affair with a subordinate (also fired) and taking freebies from an advertising agency (also fired) in violation of company policies. — Bill Saporito, Time, 12 Nov. 2007 He ran an extremely unhappy headquarters. He tended to berate subordinates, frequently shouting and cursing at them. — Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco, 2006 She also found it impossible to give negative feedback. As a consequence, her work and that of her subordinates started to suffer, and she was missing deadlines. — Steven Berglas, Harvard Business Review, June 2002 She leaves the day-to-day running of the firm to her subordinates. subordinates do most of the actual creation of the famous designer's clothing designs

Verb

Clinton administration Trade Representative Mickey Kantor declared: "The days when we could afford to subordinate our economic interests to foreign policy or defense concerns are long past." — Lawrence F. Kaplan, New Republic, 18 Mar. 2002 The real reason, though, is that art survives life, and this unpalatable realization lies behind the lumpen desire to subordinate the former to the latter. The finite always mistakes the permanent for the infinite and nurtures designs upon it. — Joseph Brodsky, Times Literary Supplement, 26 Oct. 1990 it is one of the lessons of history that more powerful civilizations often subordinate weaker ones
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Additionally, Oppenheim’s boss, powerful NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, has allowed his subordinate to take heat for quashing the Weinstein story. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "NBC News president Noah Oppenheim killed Ronan Farrow's Harvey Weinstein expose to protect his Hollywood ambitions, report says," 31 Aug. 2018 As evidenced by the history of the Banana Wars, the United States has long considered Latin America a subordinate part of its imperial domain. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump Is Threatening to Declare a National Emergency to Get Border Wall Funding. Here's Why He Shouldn’t.," 11 Jan. 2019 Federal ethics laws prohibit Administrator Pruitt from using his official position for personal gain and from requesting and accepting services from a subordinate employee that are not part of that employee’s official duties. Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg.com, "Pruitt Tried to Buy Used Mattress From Trump Hotel Last Year," 4 June 2018 But critics say it was only intended to apply to subordinate officials, not cabinet members who report directly to the president. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Legal Spat Swells Over Naming Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General," 10 Nov. 2018 Hamilton said Bambera’s subordinate role is no excuse. Michael Rubinkam, The Seattle Times, "As bishop looks on, abusive Father Ned gets a new assignment," 4 Sep. 2018 Ukrainian authorities are searching the home of the father superior of Kiev’s biggest and oldest monastery, Mr. Huskov said, which is subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church. Thomas Grove, WSJ, "Ukraine Threatens to Escalate Russia Standoff After Ship Detentions," 30 Nov. 2018 Through all this, Zamora, the priest, and his subordinate, Erick Alvarado Cole, were on their cellphones calling Nicaragua's Catholic clergy, asking for help and negotiating a peaceful resolution with the government. Joshua Partlow, chicagotribune.com, "Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students," 14 July 2018 Gaslighting happens in personal relationships (think an abusive spouse or, in rarer cases, parent), in professional relationships (a manipulative boss or coworker preying on a subordinate), and even by public figures. Sarah Digiulio /, NBC News, "What is gaslighting? And how do you know if it's happening to you?," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Both aides described instances in which their boss pressed to travel first-class or via private jet, while Dravis acknowleged that Pruitt asked his subordinates to do non-official work for him, multiple individuals said. chicagotribune.com, "Pruitt aides reveal new details of his spending and management at EPA," 3 July 2018 Talk with friends who have suddenly become subordinates about changes in behavior required by your new role, such as having lunch together less often. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "When a Promotion Means Losing Friends at Work," 26 Feb. 2019 The power of the commissioner, of course, includes his subordinates, which is why the departure of the league’s chief operating officer is one of the changes on the way at the league’s headquarters. Ken Belson, New York Times, "Roger Goodell Begins to Shape a Team for His Stretch Run," 13 Mar. 2018 Musk's abrasive management style and his refusal to listen to subordinates' concerns has likely contributed to high turnover among senior Tesla managers. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Tesla is outgrowing Elon Musk," 29 Sep. 2018 The Assembly has also fired Bocanegra's former district director, Gerardo Guzman, who in a separate investigation was found to have failed to report his boss' misconduct and to have behaved inappropriately toward three female subordinates himself. Alexei Koseff, sacbee, "Lawmaker asked Capitol aide to retrieve her bracelet from his pocket, review finds | The Sacramento Bee," 2 Mar. 2018 Investigators also found other instances of subordinates providing gifts to, or on behalf of, the general. Andrew Dyer, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Camp Pendleton general treated aide like 'servant' in Iraq, Pentagon says," 10 July 2018 The lawsuit alleges male majors got preferential treatment, that she was excluded from command staff meetings and that male subordinates were disrespectful to her. Sharon Coolidge, Cincinnati.com, "Lawsuit: Jail boss ousted for being a lesbian, raising concerns about use of force," 9 May 2018 Some top male executives violated company policy by behaving inappropriately with female subordinates, some of these people said. Khadeeja Safdar, WSJ, "Under Armour’s #MeToo Moment: No More Strip Clubs on Company Dime," 5 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And in a sense, our law reinforces the idea that religion has been — and could be again — a salient characteristic on the basis of which groups can be subordinated within the American populace. Christopher Shea, Vox, "Why Jeff Sessions thinks Christians are under siege in America," 1 Aug. 2018 Although the situation is sticky, Frank decides to help his subordinate out. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Blue Bloods' Hints at Fight That Could Tear Brothers Danny and Jamie Reagan Apart," 1 Feb. 2019 On the other hand, however, the question of aesthetics has been, more often than not, subordinated to the more urgent issues of feminist politics. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "Why does the idea of “Hermione 2020” make me so angry?," 1 Nov. 2018 One of its conceptual flaws was a failure to imagine political parties, which can effectively subordinate one branch to the other. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Paul Ryan Unaware Constitution Lets Congress Override Presidential Veto," 12 July 2018 Other challenges included the sloping site and the need for the addition to be both harmonious with and subordinate to the farmhouse. Marni Elyse Katz, BostonGlobe.com, "Parents add a modern wing to their son’s Vermont farmhouse," 15 June 2018 In the end, the 1990s didn’t advance women and girls; rather, the decade was marked by a shocking, accelerating effort to subordinate them. Allison Yarrow, Time, "How the ’90s Tricked Women Into Thinking They’d Gained Gender Equality," 13 June 2018 Crusoe keeps Friday as a servant, implying that the best way to civilize a savage is to subordinate him. Pallavi Kottamasu, BostonGlobe.com, "Were cannibals really so bad?," 2 June 2018 Also widely known, ten years later, as le nouveau roman, this literary form, subordinating plot and characterization to a vision of the world, was a product of the laboratory of ideas that Sartre and Beauvoir’s monthly review encouraged. Longreads, "When Sartre and Beauvoir Started a Magazine," 10 Apr. 2018

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1640, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subordinate

Adjective and Noun

Middle English subordinat, from Medieval Latin subordinatus, past participle of subordinare to subordinate, from Latin sub- + ordinare to order — more at ordain

Verb

Medieval Latin subordinatus — see subordinate entry 1

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Last Updated

16 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subordinate

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

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More Definitions for subordinate

subordinate

adjective

Financial Definition of subordinate

What It Is

Subordinate means "ranks beneath." In finance, the term usually refers to the claims a creditor has on a company's assets relative to other creditors.

How It Works

When something is subordinate, it ranks below the claims of other investors. The opposite of subordinate is "senior."

A subordinate claim on a company's assets is payable only after the claims that are senior have been paid. For example, let's assume Company XYZ has $100 million in assets, but it has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is liquidating. Let's also assume that Company XYZ has $125 million in total debt in the following categories: $95 million of Series A senior debt, $10 million of Series B subordinated debt, and $20 million owed to suppliers (called general creditors).

The Series B creditors are subordinate to the Series A creditors. So, of Company XYZ's $100 million in assets, the Series A creditors now own $95 million of them. This leaves only $5 million for the other Series B bondholders. Although this doesn't repay all of the $10 million owed to them, it is better than nothing, which is what the suppliers (who are owed $20 million) will get in this situation.

In general, the most senior level of debt a company has is its "secured" debt. Secured debt is collateralized by some specific asset -- usually land, equipment or cash -- that must be set aside so that secured debtholders get paid no matter what (similar to a house being collateral for a mortgage).

After the senior secured debtholders, other lenders have fewer and fewer claims on assets. Debentures (which are unsecured -- meaning there is no collateral set aside) are subordinate to secured debt. General creditors and subordinated debentures are at the bottom of the lender totem pole as the most subordinate of all the creditors. Shareholders are subordinate to all creditors, which is why they almost always receive nothing at all in the event of liquidation.

Why It Matters

The more subordinate the creditor, the weaker its claim on the company's assets. The weaker this claim, the higher the risk that the creditor will be left with nothing if the borrower defaults. This is why the more subordinate a security is, the higher the return investors demand. This is also why shareholders should always demand a higher rate of return than debtholders.

The difference in returns between a company's senior debt and its subordinated debt may not be big if the borrower is exceptionally creditworthy. But for less creditworthy borrowers, the spread can be significant. If the creditor or bondholder is confident in the company's ability to repay, the higher returns associated with subordinate securities can present exceptional opportunities.

Source: Investing Answers

subordinate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of subordinate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: in a position of less power or authority than someone else
: less important than someone or something else

subordinate

noun

English Language Learners Definition of subordinate (Entry 2 of 3)

: someone who has less power or authority than someone else : someone who is subordinate to someone else

subordinate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of subordinate (Entry 3 of 3)

formal : to think of or treat (someone or something) as less important than someone or something else

subordinate

adjective
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət How to pronounce subordinate (audio) \

Kids Definition of subordinate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : being in a lower class or rank : inferior a subordinate officer
2 : yielding to or controlled by authority

subordinate

noun

Kids Definition of subordinate (Entry 2 of 3)

: someone who has less power or authority than someone else

subordinate

verb
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnāt How to pronounce subordinate (audio) \
subordinated; subordinating

Kids Definition of subordinate (Entry 3 of 3)

: to treat as inferior in rank or importance

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subordinate

adjective
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ət How to pronounce subordinate (audio) \

Legal Definition of subordinate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : placed in or occupying a lower rank, class, or position
2 : submissive to or controlled by authority

subordinate

transitive verb
sub·​or·​di·​nate | \ sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ˌāt How to pronounce subordinate (audio) \
subordinated; subordinating

Legal Definition of subordinate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to assign lower priority to (as a debt or creditor) : postpone satisfaction of until after satisfaction of another the equitable assignee will be subordinated to the rights of the assignor's trustee in bankruptcy— J. D. Calamari and J. M. Perillo

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