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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from subordinate

Adjective

subordinately adverb
subordinateness noun

Verb

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for subordinate

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The law requires former military officers to be civilians for at least seven years before taking the Pentagon's top civilian job -- a rule that enshrines the constitutional principle that the military is subordinate to civilian command. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "How to do social distancing in a US presidential inauguration crowd," 9 Dec. 2020 The sights and spectacles of Saturday in the Washington region occurred by night and by day against a backdrop of weather that seemed too fair and fine to be consigned to a subordinate role. Washington Post, "An eventful day of spectacular weather," 4 Oct. 2020 In an effort to practice social distancing, about half a dozen APG organizations and subordinate commands will use the virtual event to recruit candidates for a variety of career fields in multiple locations. baltimoresun.com, "Aberdeen Proving Ground to host first virtual career fair Nov. 9 and 10," 4 Nov. 2020 The mandate of providing the nation with unbiased scientific advice was replaced by a new mandate—that science is subordinate to the political goals and ego of President Trump. Ben Santer, Scientific American, "An Open Letter to Joe Biden," 7 Nov. 2020 One element of corporatism is the way that nominally independent companies are ultimately subordinate to the state. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Note: Betting on a Biden Binge," 3 Nov. 2020 Laster’s leadership style drew criticism from some faculty members, and in 1982, state education overseers reassigned internal management responsibilities to a subordinate while leaving Laster in charge of external relations and fundraising. oregonlive, "Dr. Leonard Laster, former OHSU president, dies at 92," 27 Oct. 2020 That subordinate, Cynthia Donald, an officer who worked on Johnson’s security detail, filed an explosive lawsuit last week accusing the former superintendent of rep realty raping and harassing over the course of a few years. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, "Police respond to domestic battery call at the home of former superintendent Eddie Johnson," 24 Oct. 2020 Pichai quietly withdrew from the board in 2018 and installed a Google subordinate in his place. Fortune, "Magic Leap tried to create an alternate reality. Its founder was already in one," 26 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then Schembri called a subordinate and told him to talk to Theuma about a job. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, "Murder in Malta," 14 Dec. 2020 Johnson went out drinking with a subordinate, then was found asleep at the wheel near his Bridgeport home. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Grand jury subpoena indicates prosecutors investigating former Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s controversial night of drinking," 23 Oct. 2020 In December 1902, he was charged with ordering a subordinate to kill seven Filipino prisoners. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "The Glenn Highway is named for a war criminal who torturing captives during the Philippine-American War," 19 Oct. 2020 Reached by phone, Highfill referred questions to his attorney, Michael Zerlin of Thibodaux, who declined through a subordinate to respond to detailed questions. Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com, "After years of accusations, this retired New Orleans priest is now on a clergy abuse list," 19 Aug. 2020 The suit alleges that Easterbrook, who was fired for sexting with a subordinate, did far more than that. Beth Kowitt, Fortune, "McDonald’s takes on accusations of ‘sexual harassment problem’ with lawsuit against former CEO," 12 Aug. 2020 In The Assistant, which Bleecker Street released early this year, Garner almost wordlessly holds the screen as a subordinate to a powerful, abusive Harvey Weinstein-like industry figure. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, ""She Sticks Her Finger Right Into the Socket": How 'Ozark' Star Julia Garner Became a Scene-Stealer and Emmy Favorite," 12 Aug. 2020 McDonald's is trying to take back stock options and other compensation reportedly worth more than $40 million that Easterbrook was allowed to keep last fall when he was fired for sexting with a subordinate. Harold Maass, TheWeek, "The daily business briefing: August 11, 2020," 11 Aug. 2020 Wenig's subordinate passed some of the messages on to Baugh. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Cockroaches, a bloody pig mask, and a coverup. The 5 craziest allegations against former eBay officials," 15 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Several other contributors employ pastel or even bright colors but subordinate them to aggressive black gestures. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Middle East artists examine sheltering in place amid pandemic," 15 Jan. 2021 The excerpt depicts Trump as an erratic, ill-informed, and unscrupulous leader eager to subordinate U.S. national security objectives to boost his own bid for re-election. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "The fallout of John Bolton’s China bombshells," 18 June 2020 Russia is pushing through constitutional changes that subordinate international law to its own. The Economist, "Much ado about “such” The $50bn Yukos judgment against Russia turns on a single word," 20 Feb. 2020 Luckily, no other nation has enjoyed China’s level of success in subordinating the internet to the will of the state, because of both its head start and its massive scale of investment. Popular Science, "Here’s China’s massive plan to retool the web," 4 Oct. 2018 In truth, the United States has long used its diplomatic might to subordinate global public health to entrenched corporate interests. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "It’s Normal for the U.S. to Put Corporate Profits Above Babies’ Health," 10 July 2018 However, cases such as yours with a manager-subordinate dynamic involve greater dangers for employees and organizations – culturally, legally, and even financially. Michael Smith, USA TODAY, "My co-worker’s affair is disrupting our workplace: Ask HR," 24 Mar. 2020 But inside JPMorgan and most other big corporations, market competition is subordinated to planning. Paul Adler, The Conversation, "Sanders called JPMorgan’s CEO America’s ‘biggest corporate socialist’ – here’s why he has a point," 6 Feb. 2020 In holding it back, Trump was subordinating that interest to something else — but not explaining his motives publicly or to Congress. NBC News, "At the heart of impeachment, a potential dagger for Trump's re-election," 1 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subordinate

Time Traveler for subordinate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for subordinate

Last Updated

20 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subordinate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subordinate. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for subordinate

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on subordinate

What made you want to look up subordinate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!