subordinate

1 of 3

adjective

sub·​or·​di·​nate sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət How to pronounce subordinate (audio)
-ˈbȯrd-nət
1
: placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position : inferior
a subordinate officer
2
: submissive to or controlled by authority
3
a
: of, relating to, or constituting a clause that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb
subordinately adverb
subordinateness noun

subordinate

2 of 3

noun

sub·​or·​di·​nate sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət How to pronounce subordinate (audio)
-ˈbȯrd-nət
: one who stands in order or rank below another : one that is subordinate

subordinate

3 of 3

verb

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

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
subordinative adjective

Example Sentences

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
And even though sentences for the other convictions — reckless endangerment, bail jumping, hit-and-run involving injury, battery — will be subordinate to the life terms, Dorow must decide them. Bruce Vielmetti, Journal Sentinel, 28 Oct. 2022 Wielding her feminist sword with cutting gusto, Haynes allows Calliope to ensure that Homer is punished for presuming to give a subordinate role to the women of his great song cycles. Miranda Seymour, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2021 Nevertheless, some experts say gradually reducing the workweek could contribute to an economy where growth and productivity take a subordinate role to values like balance and sustainability. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Nov. 2021 Along with the article, the newspaper published a video filmed by other staffers who had secretly recorded Telles and the subordinate — both married — in the back seat of her car. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 9 Sep. 2022 This is essentially a racial issue where the great replacement is about the fear that whites will become second class citizens and subordinate in the United States. CBS News, 19 Oct. 2022 Neom is expected to have its own laws separate from the broader kingdom but subordinate to the monarch, King Salman, the crown prince’s father. Rory Jones, WSJ, 17 Sep. 2022 And then the third thing, subordinate to those two: Is there a good deal for us here? Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, 1 Aug. 2022 Real self-determination and equality could only be achieved by ending the socially and economically subordinate role of women in our society—a burden that fell heaviest on poor and working-class women of color. Keeanga-yamahtta Taylor, The New Yorker, 6 July 2022
Noun
The head of the Organization of American States is facing growing calls, including from the Biden administration, for an external probe into possible misconduct tied to his intimate relationship with a subordinate. Joshua Goodman, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Nov. 2022 Minnesota Public Radio terminates its contract with Garrison Keillor following a report of inappropriate behavior with a subordinate. Julian Sancton, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Sep. 2022 According to league sources, Udoka was suspended due to an improper, consensual relationship with a subordinate within the organization. Adam Himmelsbach, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Sep. 2022 Giving a subordinate the responsibility and the authority to solve a problem, even with some oversight, improves staff capability and experience. Brian H. Robb, Forbes, 15 Mar. 2022 In one experiment, research participants were given a scenario in which a male subordinate and a female supervisor come together for a conversation. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 22 Sep. 2022 The chipmaker promoted him to interim CEO two years later when Intel fired CEO Brian Krzanich after the board uncovered a past relationship between Krzanich and a subordinate. oregonlive, 21 Sep. 2022 The county official lost a primary election in June after German’s stories exposed allegations of bullying, favoritism and an inappropriate relationship between Telles and a subordinate. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 8 Sep. 2022 Embodied in figures like Lew Platt of Hewlett-Packard or Michael Hawley of Gillette, the organization man was a conformer, a loyal subordinate who worked his way up in the company. Manvir Singh, Wired, 14 July 2022
Verb
And still other times war is a ghastly abuse of power sending children into other people’s homes to kill, oppress, and steal from them on behalf of industries who subordinate our government’s policies to corporate profits. Mark Hughes, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022 And, in fact, that’s really the underlying question in the criticism of the university: Did the university subordinate their obligations to stand up for their student body to law enforcement? San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Oct. 2022 Unlike consequences, which for all practical purposes are applied in one direction (boss to team member), ownership can be reinforced in a 360-degree process (peer to peer, team member to boss, and boss to subordinate). Rodger Dean Duncan, Forbes, 3 May 2022 The desire to punish belligerence—and to subordinate other geopolitical goals to that cause—is once again in the air. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 20 Apr. 2022 In many places, children expect to support their elderly parents and will subordinate their interests to that aim. New York Times, 22 Feb. 2022 Implicitly, the message was that America gauges the value of that sacred alliance in terms of European willingness to form a common front against China, and to subordinate their interests to American interests in that contest. Noah Millman, The Week, 14 June 2021 Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld tried to subordinate CIA officers to U.S. military command. CBS News, 22 Sep. 2021 Feminists can be depicted as jealous man haters who want to subordinate men. Joy Burnford, Forbes, 26 May 2021 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near subordinate

Cite this Entry

“Subordinate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subordinate. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

subordinate 1 of 3

adjective

sub·​or·​di·​nate sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ət How to pronounce subordinate (audio)
-ˈbȯrd-nət
1
: placed in or occupying a lower class or rank
a subordinate officer
2
: yielding to or controlled by authority
3
a
: of, relating to, or being a clause that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb
subordinately adverb
subordinateness noun

subordinate

2 of 3

noun

: one that is subordinate

subordinate

3 of 3

verb

sub·​or·​di·​nate sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ˌāt How to pronounce subordinate (audio)
subordinated; subordinating
: to make subordinate
subordination noun
subordinative adjective

Legal Definition

subordinate 1 of 2

adjective

sub·​or·​di·​nate sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ət How to pronounce subordinate (audio)
1
: placed in or occupying a lower rank, class, or position
2
: submissive to or controlled by authority

subordinate

2 of 2

transitive verb

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