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

subordinative \ sə-​ˈbȯr-​də-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce subordinative (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for subordinate

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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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 Many Yazidi women marry as young as 15 and become financially dependent on, and socially subordinate to, their husbands for the rest of their lives. Güneş Murat Tezcür, The Conversation, "5 years after Islamic State massacre, an Iraqi minority is transformed by trauma," 26 Nov. 2019 Winslow is not exactly an eager student or subordinate. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, "Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe shine in ‘The Lighthouse’," 25 Oct. 2019 Staying in close proximity to females offers several benefits for younger subordinate males. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Color of Giraffes’ Spots Reflects Social Status, Not Age," 1 Oct. 2019 However, the maneuver prompted the City of Detroit's two pension funds in 2013 to sue the carpenters' pension fund, claiming the buyout deal was unfair to the hotels' subordinate lenders. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Metro Detroit union sunk $100M+ into risky deals — now retirees could pay the price," 12 Nov. 2019 Critics of artificial intelligence have long warned that the technology could lead to a dystopian future in which humans are subordinate to machines. David Yaffe-bellany, New York Times, "Would You Like Fries With That? McDonald’s Already Knows the Answer," 26 Oct. 2019 Fans were sometimes taken aback by Walter’s subordinate position. Daniel E. Slotnik, SFChronicle.com, "Bill Macy, character actor best known for ‘Maude,’ dies," 18 Oct. 2019 But McAleenan also reportedly prepared to resign in June over undercutting from other White House officials and subordinate Homeland Security personnel. Anchorage Daily News, "Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan steps down," 12 Oct. 2019 But McAleenan also reportedly prepared to resign in June over undercutting from other White House officials and subordinate Homeland Security personnel. Los Angeles Times, "Homeland Security acting head Kevin McAleenan resigns, leaving department at war with itself," 11 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In this version of the story, Mr Trump would be the naïve, trusting president on whose behalf—but without whose consent—subordinates cooked up morally dubious plans. The Economist, "The Ukraine affair The new politics of Donald Trump’s impeachment," 10 Nov. 2019 The idea that subordinates making a legitimate claim against authority ought to be protected is a much newer idea, and one more or less associated with liberal values. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Why Is Trump Obsessed with Outing the Whistle-Blower?," 7 Nov. 2019 The panel found Delashaw had intimidated subordinates by yelling and swearing at them, creating a climate where staff members were reluctant to ask the type of questions needed to properly care for patients. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Judge upholds restrictions on medical license of former Swedish Health neurosurgeon," 1 Oct. 2019 She and her staff instructed subordinates to alert the front office if Miller called them out of the blue to request statistics or discuss a policy proposal, insisting that the secretary's office would handle the response. al, "How Stephen Miller controls Trump’s immigration policy," 18 Aug. 2019 Ivey met with investigators for an April 17 interview and lied to them about his motivation for ordering his subordinates to turn off their cameras. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Associate Cuyahoga County Jail warden Eric Ivey pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate with investigations into jail conditions, county government," 19 Aug. 2019 The jury of five Marines and two sailors — one of whom is a SEAL — had to decide if the boy was stabbed to death, or died from wounds sustained during an airstrike with Gallagher's being falsely accused by disgruntled subordinates. NBC News, "Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher acquitted of murder in ISIS fighter case," 2 July 2019 Two high-ranking executives had left Under Armour after allegations of inappropriate behavior toward female subordinates. Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ, "Under Armour CEO Plank Pledges to Improve Company’s Culture," 27 Nov. 2018 The Republic identified 16 other sergeants or lieutenants who have investigated complaints against their subordinates — 156 cases in all — despite their inclusion on the Brady list and having been disciplined themselves for misconduct. Justin Price, azcentral, "Phoenix police routinely 'purges' officer discipline records, keeps misconduct secret," 23 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the years following Suharto’s downfall, politicians vowed to subordinate the armed forces to civilian authority. The Economist, "Indonesian politicians are giving the armed forces a big role in government," 31 Oct. 2019 The employee-employer contract is, at its core, fairly basic: the employee receives a steady income and other insurance and agrees to subordinate him- or herself to the employer (within reason) in return. Alex Webb | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Watch Out Google, YouTubers Are Unionizing," 14 Aug. 2019 They have been deployed as justification for subordinating those with lesser scores. Randall Kennedy, Washington Post, "A black academic grapples with his own racism," 23 Aug. 2019 If, instead, a settlement enables the launch of a public pharmaceutical option, the U.S. could once and for all move beyond having to tolerate an industry that subordinates public health to shareholder greed. Dana Brown, The New Republic, "The Case for a Public Option for the Drug Industry," 16 Sep. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for subordinate

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for subordinate

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Subordinate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subordinated. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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
How to pronounce subordinate (audio)

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
How to pronounce subordinate (audio)

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
How to pronounce subordinate (audio)

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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