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

In one study that examined missing details, students noted about 80% of a lesson’s main ideas (level 1) but progressively fewer subordinate details: 60% of level 2 ideas, 35% of level 3 ideas, and just 11% of level 4 ideas. Kenneth A. Kiewra, The Conversation, "7 tips on how to take better notes," 3 Sep. 2019 Just like centuries ago, a tenant is generally regarded as a subordinate to the landlord, who allows a tenant to occupy a property under strict conditions of a lease in return for extracting a rent from them. Vuyo Radebe, Quartz, "Millennials are calling BS on the benefits of owning a home," 27 Aug. 2019 Blakely also faces a charge for soliciting a $1,000 wire transfer from a subordinate other than in the ordinary course of business, according to Marshall’s office. Ashley Remkus | Aremkus@al.com, al, "Limestone County’s 10-term sheriff arrested on ethics, theft charges," 22 Aug. 2019 Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Monica Lewinsky Is Producing FX's Impeachment: American Crime Story," 7 Aug. 2019 In a separate trial, the court reached its only other conviction, of Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, a prison commander who was subordinate to Mr. Nuon Chea and who was sentenced to life imprisonment. Seth Mydans, New York Times, "Nuon Chea, Khmer Rouge’s Chief Ideologist, Dies at 93," 4 Aug. 2019 Computresses were subordinate to all-male teams of engineers. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Inside Apollo mission control, from the eyes of the first woman on the job," 18 July 2019 Opposition parties argue the single-mandate races favor the ruling party and say that Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man, is subordinate to Russia. Madeline Roache, Time, "Georgians Have Now Been Protesting Russian Interference for a Week. Here's Why," 27 June 2019 There is also a contradiction between Mr Putin’s claim to be restoring Russian greatness and the increasingly obvious reality of its subordinate role to China. The Economist, "Partnership is much better for China than it is for Russia," 27 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The president has been adept at shunting blame onto subordinates. Washington Post, "Mexico’s “Teflon” presidency starting to show wear," 30 Aug. 2019 The president has been adept at shunting blame onto subordinates. Mark Stevenson, Los Angeles Times, "In Mexico, Lopez Obrador’s ‘Teflon’ presidency is starting to show wear," 30 Aug. 2019 Jurors must decide if Coleman’s vice unit subordinates violated any traffic laws during the chase, and whether she can be held legally responsible for their actions. Evan Macdonald, cleveland.com, "Jury deliberating in trial for Cleveland police supervisor charged in chase from ’137 shots’ case," 19 July 2019 In this picture of a one-man reign of pure corruption, hapless subordinates labor in vain to hold on to the just and the true. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Loudest Voice’ Review: A Fox in the Hen House," 27 June 2019 The indictment charges Blakely with dipping into his campaign funds for non-election expenses, taking money from sheriff’s department accounts, soliciting loans from subordinates in the department and using his office for personal gain. al, "Move over Beach House Sheriff. Meet Sheriff Scratch-off," 28 Aug. 2019 Bransfield and several subordinates spent an average of nearly $1,000 a month on alcohol, the Post said, citing the confidential report. Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY, "West Virginia attorney general calls on diocese to 'come clean' on allegations against former bishop," 20 July 2019 Eddy suggested Hall and other high-level administrators at OU were aware that Boren made unwanted advances toward male subordinates but did nothing to stop it. Sean Murphy, The Seattle Times, "Oklahoma ex-senator David Boren accused of sexual misconduct," 30 Mar. 2019 Painted dogs have one of the most structured social orders of all carnivores, made up of an alpha female and male with subordinates beneath them. Dallas News, "Dallas Zoo's new African painted dogs kill packmate," 4 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To subordinate the entirety of American history — including the history of slavery and those who suffered unspeakably under it — to contemporary partisan political obsessions is malpractice as history and journalism both. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 22 Aug. 2019 Argott and Joyce subordinate these more pressing political questions to a mirror-box exploration of the nature of truth and the unfathomable secrets of the soul. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "In Focus: Back to a future that didn’t go according to plan," 20 June 2019 The news about her pregnancy had prompted him to subordinate his artistic ego to the expense of raising a child. Nell Zink, Harper's magazine, "Marmalade Sky," 24 June 2019 Data scientists need to actively partner with the diverse communities represented in their data—not just in consultative roles, but in ways that subordinate the former to the latter. Anna Lauren Hoffmann, Quartz, "The language we use to describe data can also help us fix its problems," 18 June 2019 The number of personnel subordinated to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was drastically reduced. János Besenyő, Quartz Africa, "Russia is vying to offer African countries a credible alternative to the US and China," 4 June 2019 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

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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Statistics for subordinate

Last Updated

14 Sep 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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Comments on subordinate

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