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

Definition of superior

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 3)

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


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

Definition of Superior (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective If Utah’s players really are that superior, maybe Oregon coach Mario Cristobal should have been conference coach of the year instead of Whittingham. oregonlive, "One word for the way the Ducks were dissed in all-conference sections: Scoreboard: Issues & Answers," 11 Dec. 2019 One mode isn’t superior to the other, but the two sometimes coexist uneasily. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "‘Queen & Slim’: A first date, a police shooting and a road movie for today (movie review)," 27 Nov. 2019 In a brief phone interview, Manuel Reyes, whom the complaint identified as another superior at Rey Co., said that Palma had worked for him off and on but was not employed by Rey on the site. Eli Rosenberg, Anchorage Daily News, "How a worker who survived a catastrophic New Orleans building collapse ended up in ICE detention," 25 Nov. 2019 One mode isn’t superior to the other, but the two sometimes coexist uneasily. Michael Phillips,, "’Queen & Slim’ review: A first date, a police shooting and a road movie for today," 22 Nov. 2019 His contemporary and superior, Barry Sanders, ran behind a line in Detroit that was basically Kevin Glover and four guys who might as well have been Marshall Newhouse’s uncles., "PREDICTION, OR HE PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE JUST STUCK WITH JIMMY JOHNSON," 22 Nov. 2019 The youngster’s superior skills will dwarf Howard’s lackluster efficiency, likely on 15-plus touches per game. Dave Clark,, "Mt. Healthy's David Montgomery of Bears among top fantasy football running backs ranked," 21 Aug. 2019 But in the second round, Alvin proved superior to the Lady Mavs, winning 3-0 and 11-4. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "High School softball workouts under way among Pasadena ISD schools," 27 Jan. 2020 While there are differences in their games — Heiskanen boasts the best all-around game and most game to game responsibility, while the other three are superior on the power play — all four defensemen can skate remarkably well. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "NHL All-Star notes: Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes follows in Miro Heiskanen’s footsteps; why Stars could use Chris Kreider," 25 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The mission was besieged by infighting between engineers and their superiors, many of who held high-ranking positions in the Communist Party, over design flaws, reported. Fox News, "Challenger explosion among the deadliest space disasters," 29 Jan. 2020 Nazis are not so much, say, convinced of the righteousness of their poisonous ideology, or myopically focused on pleasing their superiors, as consciously locked in a Manichaean struggle with our hero. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "The Heavy-Handed Moralism of Terrence Malick’s New Film," 13 Dec. 2019 After flagging her superiors about these troubling outcomes on numerous occasions, she was considered a troublemaker and was eventually fired. CBS News, "Doctors vs. midwives: OB-GYN blew the whistle, risked career, to protect moms and babies," 14 June 2019 His superiors resisted, thinking the idea was too frightening. Neil Genzlinger,, "Fred Silverman, TV executive at 3 major networks, dies at 82," 30 Jan. 2020 In repeated, consistent memos in the months that followed, Compton alerted his direct superiors and higher headquarters of the myriad issues, including the squadron’s morale. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, "Faulty Equipment, Lapsed Training, Repeated Warnings: How a Preventable Disaster Killed Six Marines," 2 Jan. 2020 Eddie Gallagher has already mocked his fellow Navy SEALs and superiors for punishing his grotesque behavior. Thomas Kolditz, Fortune, "Trump Is Violating a Key Military Rule in the Eddie Gallagher Affair—and the Military Is Suffering From It," 26 Nov. 2019 Thankfully, apart from the images that his superiors deemed appropriate for public consumption, Brody saved some twenty-five thousand pictures from his time in Iraq on a hard drive. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, "“Relentless Absurdity”: An Army Photographer’s Censored Images," 19 Jan. 2020 But his superiors were assistant general manager Brandon Taubman and GM Jeff Luhnow. Peter Abraham,, "Recapping baseball’s week of scandal," 18 Jan. 2020

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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Statistics for superior

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Superior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for superior


How to pronounce Superior (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of superior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of high quality : high or higher in quality
: great or greater in amount, number, or degree
: better than other people



English Language Learners Definition of superior (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person of higher rank or status than another


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

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Legal Definition of superior

: of higher status, rank, or priority

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