su·​pe·​ri·​or | \ su̇-ˈpir-ē-ər How to pronounce superior (audio) \

Definition of superior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : situated higher up : upper
2 : of higher rank, quality, or importance
3 : courageously or serenely indifferent (as to something painful or disheartening)
4a : greater in quantity or numbers escaped by superior speed
b : excellent of its kind : better her superior memory
5 : being a superscript
6a of an animal structure : situated above or anterior or dorsal to another and especially a corresponding part a superior artery
b of a plant structure : situated above or near the top of another part: such as
(1) of a calyx : attached to and apparently arising from the ovary
(2) of an ovary : free from the calyx or other floral envelope
7 : more comprehensive a genus is superior to a species
8 : affecting or assuming an air of superiority : supercilious



Definition of superior (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one who is above another in rank, station, or office especially : the head of a religious house or order
2 : one that surpasses another in quality or merit

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Other Words from superior


superiorly adverb

Examples of superior in a Sentence

Adjective This new model offers superior performance. The small army was overwhelmed by superior numbers. He only helps us because it makes him feel superior. Report to your superior officer. The verdict was reversed by a superior court. Noun His superior gave him an excellent evaluation. You should report any problems to your immediate superior. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For several years, Putin, along with other authoritarian leaders, have tried to use propaganda brigades to sow divisions among Americans in an attempt to weaken the West and prove to their own people that their system is superior. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 28 Apr. 2022 This will be a transit experience but may be superior if the transit has dedicated track or is high speed rail. Brad Templeton, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Although Harvey and Rahal tied for 11th in average starting position a year ago (12.7) among full-time drivers, Harvey’s top-end potential was clearly superior. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 24 Feb. 2022 There’s no sheet mask that is superior, in my opinion. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, 8 Feb. 2022 All those little tweaks in a classic design result in a pan that is superior in many ways to your everyday cast-iron skillet. Lauren Joseph, Bon Appétit, 29 Jan. 2022 This is where respirator masks are potentially superior. Macaela Mackenzie, SELF, 3 Jan. 2022 In comparison to Green Bay, the Bucs’ offensive line and defensive front were both superior. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Jan. 2022 If so, show off your superior knowledge in this week’s news quiz, which features 10 questions on current events in Northeast Ohio from the past week. cleveland, 29 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun He is fired from a local taxi firm, in part for being constitutionally unable to leave his passengers in peace, and then from a bakery, for defending an Asian colleague from a racist superior. The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2022 In 2015 and 2016, frustrated by the inaction on the code blue policy, Brovont took his and his colleagues’ concerns to Dr. Patrick McHugh, his superior at EmCare. NBC News, 28 Mar. 2022 Kueng, the rookie Black officer who knelt on Floyd's leg, testified that probationary officers were taught to always defer to a superior to the point of unquestioning obedience. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, 24 Feb. 2022 Given that many workers remain remote, DeMase recommends scheduling a call or meeting with a superior. Washington Post, 16 Oct. 2021 Boozy meals have long been widespread in corporate China, where it can be seen as offensive to refuse to drink with a superior. New York Times, 1 Sep. 2021 After her inebriated exit from the Ivy League — which isn't likely to garner any recommendation letters from her superior, Dr. Pruitt (Whoopi Goldberg) — she's also left trying to figure out her future in academia. Marcus Jones,, 7 Dec. 2021 In December, Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, fired a woman who had accused a superior of raping her. New York Times, 2 Jan. 2022 In December, Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, fired a woman who had accused a superior of raping her. Vivian Wang,, 2 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'superior.' 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 superior


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for superior


Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin, comparative of superus upper, from super over, above — more at over

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Time Traveler for superior

Time Traveler

The first known use of superior was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Superior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for superior


su·​pe·​ri·​or | \ su̇-ˈpir-ē-ər How to pronounce superior (audio) \

Kids Definition of superior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : situated higher up : higher in rank, importance, numbers, or quality
2 : excellent of its kind : better a superior athlete
3 : showing the feeling of being better or more important than others : arrogant a superior smirk



Kids Definition of superior (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person who is higher than another in rank, importance, or quality
2 : the head of a religious house or order


su·​pe·​ri·​or | \ su̇-ˈpir-ē-ər How to pronounce superior (audio) \

Medical Definition of superior

1 : situated toward the head and further away from the feet than another and especially another similar part of an upright body especially of a human being the superior medial edge of the patient's right scapula— J. M. Lewis — compare inferior sense 1
2 : situated in a more anterior or dorsal position in the body of a quadruped — compare inferior sense 2



Legal Definition of superior

: of higher status, rank, or priority

Superior geographical name

Su·​pe·​ri·​or | \ su̇-ˈpir-ē-ər How to pronounce Superior (audio) \

Definition of Superior

city and port on Lake Superior in northwestern Wisconsin population 27,244

More from Merriam-Webster on superior

Nglish: Translation of superior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of superior for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about superior


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