1

subordinate

adjective sub·or·di·nate \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-nət , -ˈbȯrd-nət \
Updated on: 22 Nov 2017

Definition of subordinate

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

Examples of subordinate in a Sentence

  1. 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 AllevaCommonwealMay 9, 2008
  2. 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 DuffeyEditor & Publisher13 Oct. 2003
  3. 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 ThurmanNew Yorker13 Oct. 2003
  4. his contention is that environment plays a subordinate role to heredity in determining what we become

Recent Examples of subordinate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of subordinate

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


2

subordinate

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

Definition of subordinate

: one who stands in order or rank below another : one that is subordinate

Examples of subordinate in a Sentence

  1. 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 SaporitoTime12 Nov. 2007
  2. He ran an extremely unhappy headquarters. He tended to berate subordinates, frequently shouting and cursing at them. —Thomas E. RicksFiasco2006
  3. 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 BerglasHarvard Business ReviewJune 2002
  4. She leaves the day-to-day running of the firm to her subordinates.

  5. subordinates do most of the actual creation of the famous designer's clothing designs

Recent Examples of subordinate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of subordinate


3

subordinate

verb sub·or·di·nate \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnāt \

Definition of subordinate

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

subordination

play \-ˌbȯr-də-ˈnā-shən\ noun

subordinative

play \-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnā-tiv\ adjective

Examples of subordinate in a Sentence

  1. 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. KaplanNew Republic18 Mar. 2002
  2. 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 BrodskyTimes Literary Supplement26 Oct. 1990
  3. it is one of the lessons of history that more powerful civilizations often subordinate weaker ones

Recent Examples of subordinate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of subordinate

Medieval Latin subordinatus — see 1subordinate


Financial Definition of SUBORDINATE

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.



SUBORDINATE Defined for English Language Learners

subordinate

adjective

Definition of subordinate for English Language Learners

  • : in a position of less power or authority than someone else

  • : less important than someone or something else


subordinate

noun

Definition of subordinate for English Language Learners

  • : someone who has less power or authority than someone else : someone who is subordinate to someone else


subordinate

verb

Definition of subordinate for English Language Learners

  • : to think of or treat (someone or something) as less important than someone or something else


SUBORDINATE Defined for Kids

1

subordinate

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

Definition of subordinate for Students

1 : being in a lower class or rank : inferior
  • a subordinate officer
2 : yielding to or controlled by authority

2

subordinate

noun

Definition of subordinate for Students

: someone who has less power or authority than someone else

3

subordinate

verb sub·or·di·nate \ sə-ˈbȯr-də-ˌnāt \

Definition of subordinate for Students

subordinated; subordinating
: to treat as inferior in rank or importance

Law Dictionary

1

subordinate

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

legal Definition of subordinate

1 : placed in or occupying a lower rank, class, or position
2 : submissive to or controlled by authority

2

subordinate

transitive verb sub·or·di·nate \ sə-ˈbȯrd-ᵊn-ˌāt \

legal Definition of subordinate

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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