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

Among rhesus monkeys like Orange and her troop, this expression is 100 percent unidirectional: It is given by the subordinate to the dominant, never the other way around. Frans De Waal, Discover Magazine, "Cheerful Chimps: Are Animals Really Happy When They Smile?," 31 May 2019 For the deal to move ahead, at least two-thirds of Acreage shareholders must vote in favor, including a majority of the subordinate and proportionate voting shares. Kristine Owram, BostonGlobe.com, "A gummy conundrum for Canada’s pot producers," 17 June 2019 Under the bill, people suspected of crimes could be sent to jurisdictions including mainland China, whose judicial system is subordinate to the ruling Communist Party. New York Times, "Hong Kong Residents Block Roads to Protest Extradition Bill," 11 June 2019 Citing growth, equity issues, inappropriate text messages to a subordinate and anti-incumbency sentiment, many forecasted the end of his political career. Doug Friednash, The Denver Post, "Friednash: Hancock’s victory in the face of uncertainty pales in comparison to the mayor’s other life challenges," 9 June 2019 Her already subordinate position was weakened further. Martin Farr, Quartz, "Donald Trump’s state visit is a sorry sign of the times for the UK," 4 June 2019 The Oulipo also comprises a number of subordinate units devoted to other pursuits: Oumupo for music, Oupeinpo for painting, Ougrapo for graphic design, Oupopo for crime fiction, Outrapo for (staged) tragicomedy, and Oubapo for comics. Luc Sante, Harper's magazine, "A Crew of Variegated Weirdos," 10 Jan. 2019 Regulators found Ianieri had behaved inappropriately with female subordinate employees, manipulating them and pitting them against each other. The Oregonian/oregonlive, OregonLive.com, "A fight over one Oregon cop's behavior toward women," 26 Jan. 2018 Kip Fulks, Under Armour’s co-founder and a longtime executive, had a romantic relationship with a subordinate, a violation of company policy, a person familiar with the matter said. Khadeeja Safdar, WSJ, "Under Armour’s #MeToo Moment: No More Strip Clubs on Company Dime," 5 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But there has been no evidence to date that Ms. Foxx, who is up for re-election in 2020, pushed her subordinates to drop the charges. Julia Jacobs, New York Times, "Jussie Smollett Case: What Do We Know, and What’s Left to Investigate?," 1 July 2019 His ethics officials have also sought to dissuade his subordinates. Anchorage Daily News, "Money follows Trump when he visits his clubs, as Republicans and officials pay to be with him," 21 June 2019 Had Harris accepted the pleas of her subordinates to adopt the 2005 Brady policy, this scandal would have almost certainly been avoided. Craig Trainor, National Review, "Kamala Harris’s Dreadful DA Record," 19 June 2019 Miller, who was a first class petty officer in 2017, was Gallagher’s direct subordinate and served as the platoon’s leading petty officer. Andrew Dyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Navy SEAL’s teammates set to testify in trial that begins Monday," 16 June 2019 When the day and time are fixed, subordinates are so informed. Kat Moon, Time, "What Does the ‘D’ in ‘D-Day’ Stand For? Experts Disagree With Eisenhower’s Answer," 4 June 2019 Bullying in the workplace is not uncommon in Japan, where many companies remain deeply hierarchical and relationships between superiors and subordinates are seen as inviolable. Isabella Steger, Quartz at Work, "Japan finally passed laws to prevent “pawa hara,” or workplace bullying," 30 May 2019 Meanwhile, the European Parliament renewed its call for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about the data privacy scandal, after Zuckerberg offered to send a subordinate in his place. Danica Kirka, BostonGlobe.com, "Facebook adds privacy settings to comply with European rules," 19 Apr. 2018 Two top allies of Scott Pruitt who won controversial raises worth tens of thousands of dollars are resigning from the agency, amid mounting scrutiny of the extent to which the EPA administrator enlisted subordinates to conduct personal errands. Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg.com, "Two Pruitt Aides Who Got Big Raises Resign From EPA," 6 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

6 Jul 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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