subordinate

adjective
sub·or·di·nate | \sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət, -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

b : subordinating

subordinate

noun
sub·or·di·nate | \sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət, -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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from subordinate

Adjective

subordinately adverb
subordinateness noun

Verb

subordination \sə-ˌbȯr-də-ˈnā-shən \ noun
subordinative \sə-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnā-tiv \ 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

Antonyms: Noun

senior, superior

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Today, despite its subordinate position within the European Union behind such larger powers as France and Germany, Ireland has played an outsized role as a voice on matters concerning Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Sean Savage, Jewish Journal, "Ireland goes ahead with legislation to boycott products made in Israeli settlements," 12 July 2018 Lasseter was also reprimanded for making out with a subordinate at an Oscar party in 2010, sources said. Brent Lang, chicagotribune.com, "Jennifer Lee, Pete Docter to run Disney Animation, Pixar," 19 June 2018 Mueller is a true subordinate — incapable of doing anything that his boss, Rosenstein, rejects. Neal Katyal, Time, "President Trump Is Wrong. The Mueller Probe Is Constitutional," 7 June 2018 On Thursday, the semiconductor maker blindsided Silicon Valley with the abrupt resignation of its chief executive over a relationship with a subordinate. Don Clark, New York Times, "Intel C.E.O. Brian Krzanich Resigns After Relationship With Employee," 21 June 2018 The food at Passerotto is more Korean than Italian, the latter more a subtle, subordinate influence that in most cases is expressed seamlessly. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "Andersonville’s Passerotto is a tale of two peninsulas," 21 June 2018 Federal ethics standards prohibit such personal assistance by a subordinate, even if the employee is working outside of office hours. New York Times, BostonGlobe.com, "Aide sought apartment for Pruitt, and mattress from Trump hotel," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Deregulation is Trump’s mission, and by beginning the process of undoing rules like greenhouse gas limits, fuel economy standards, and pollution controls, Pruitt has proved himself to be one of Trump’s most effective subordinates. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Why Trump would really, really rather not fire Scott Pruitt," 15 June 2018 The woman, who is now remarried and goes by Ruby Rippey-Gibney, was a subordinate of Newsom's and worked in City Hall as his appointments secretary. Angela Hart, sacbee, "Gavin Newsom didn't really go to rehab | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Apr. 2018 As Homeland Security adviser, Bossert would have been a subordinate of the incoming, mustachioed White House national security adviser; and Bolton would prefer to assemble his own team. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "John Bolton Forces Homeland Security Adviser to Resign," 10 Apr. 2018 Cranley, who previously had praised the city manager, cited a pattern of unprofessional behavior, including a visit with subordinates to a strip club during a work trip in Denver two years ago. Dan Horn, Cincinnati.com, "Cranley wants special counsel to investigate Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black," 30 Mar. 2018 In addition to misuse of his aide, Uribe was found to have accepted gifts and loans from subordinates. Andrew Dyer, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Camp Pendleton general treated aide like 'servant' in Iraq, Pentagon says," 10 July 2018 As with the Trump mattress debacle, asking subordinates to buy body lotion and pick up the laundry seems to be a violation of federal rules. Alessandra Potenza, The Verge, "A short history of Scott Pruitt’s scandals from the big to the bizarre," 11 June 2018 But the town’s police chief, who likens them to flowers, says his female subordinates have soothed motorists. The Economist, "Why a mayor in Lebanon has dressed policewomen in hot pants," 12 July 2018 President Trump left it to his subordinates, particularly on the trade side, to do the heavy lifting. Philip Rucker, The Seattle Times, "The ‘dotard’ meets ‘Little Rocket Man’: Trump and Kim are adversaries with many similarities," 10 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Your notion that our ability to have this conversation is subordinated to the color of our skin doesn’t make any sense to me. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Ezra and Sam Harris debate race, IQ, identity politics, and much more.," 9 Apr. 2018 That’s the opposite of Trump’s approach, which is to subordinate Amazon not to the government but to his personal whims. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Trump’s Amazon Trap," 4 Apr. 2018 So far, though, experience teaches that politicians who express support for young voters' priorities on the campaign trail but subordinate them to the interests of older voters in office have little to fear. Brian Dickerson, Anchorage Daily News, "Young voters should scare incumbents. Here’s why they don’t.," 27 Feb. 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.

See More

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

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

Noun

see subordinate entry 1

Verb

Medieval Latin subordinatus — see subordinate entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subordinate

Share subordinate

Phrases Related to subordinate

subordinate clause

subordinating conjunction

Statistics for subordinate

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subordinate

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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)

: 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 \

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 \
subordinated; subordinating

Kids Definition of subordinate (Entry 3 of 3)

: to treat as inferior in rank or importance

Keep scrolling for more

subordinate

adjective
sub·or·di·nate | \sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ət \

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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on subordinate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to reject or criticize sharply

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?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!