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 Thomas writes with a delightfully refreshing, self-aware voice, toggling between playful (a treatise on why cities are superior to suburbia) and poignant (a look back at a formative friendship) without inducing tonal whiplash. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, "20 Books to Read in Quarantine This Summer," 15 May 2020 Their take on the classic mixed drink is superior for a few reasons. Alex Erdekian, Condé Nast Traveler, "7 Spanish Drinks You Can Make at Home," 14 May 2020 The object has never been to permit a governor to make a 'neighbor's' rights or interests in health superior to the people's or even to another citizen's natural and inalienable rights. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Maryland governor sued by state lawmakers, pastors and businesses over stay-at-home orders," 4 May 2020 The trick is that each turn rotates the direction sunlight shines in from, rewarding planning and ensuring that no one angle is entirely superior. Dan Thurot, Ars Technica, "Our favorite boardgames that model the natural world," 25 Apr. 2020 Logistically superior to cigars while delivering a sharper buzz than pipe tobacco, the cigarette had undeniable military advantages, particularly after the advent of mechanized rolling. Steven Cohen, The New Republic, "How Drugs Made American Warfare," 17 Apr. 2020 But these groups have been willing to accept temporary losses, knowing that the pandemic, if not addressed, could do far superior damage to their business. Fox News, "El Salvador gangs enforce coronavirus lockdown with threats of violence, report says," 9 Apr. 2020 Its Apple store is far better than the one at the Galleria, obviously; its restaurants far superior to the food court at the Westfield Fashion Square. Tyler Coates, Wired, "A Meme Account About a Mall Is Now a Lifeline," 8 Apr. 2020 The Postcard Killings ultimately feels all too familiar, recalling not only such far superior films as Se7en, but also countless episodes of such television procedurals as the CSI and Criminal Minds franchises. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Postcard Killings': Film Review," 12 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the military, superiors give what are known as challenge coins to soldiers as an attaboy. Dan Morain, Los Angeles Times, "Meet the 73-year-old surgeon working to keep California veterans safe from COVID-19," 10 May 2020 Catch-22’ did for the military life — displays it as farce, a melee of blunderers laboring to murky purpose under corrupt and platitudinous superiors. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "12 novels that changed the way we live," 7 May 2020 The Navy’s response to the outbreak on board became a national story after The Chronicle obtained a letter the ship’s former captain sent to superiors pleading for help. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 23," 23 Apr. 2020 Even if Crozier’s superiors were unresponsive to his initial requests for help, the captain’s obligation was to inform his boss and lay a record in writing that would force action while still following procedure, Solis explains. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The Navy captain fired for sounding coronavirus alarms broke no law—just protocol," 4 Apr. 2020 Authorities said Irizarry filed false reports and misled superiors while directing the DEA to wire funds intended for undercover operations to accounts in Spain and other countries. Fox News, "Former DEA agent arrested in alleged money-laundering scheme with Colombian cartel," 23 Feb. 2020 The video has not been released, but a report summarizes what Barbieri’s superiors say was on it. Rafael Olmeda,, "Hollywood officer charged with striking handcuffed suspect," 4 Oct. 2019 And Hothi’s court filing brought up the case of Tesla regional manager Adam Williams, who reported to superiors that employees were knowingly selling defective cars; the document said Williams was demoted and later fired. Russ Mitchell,, "Is he a Tesla stalker or just a very meticulous researcher? A judge will decide," 9 July 2019 Prosecutors charged Joseph in April 2019 of conspiring to obstruct justice by stopping the recording to conceal her actions and lying about the incident to her superiors. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Judge charged with helping illegal immigrant escape ICE agent claims she's victim of 'political bias'," 16 Apr. 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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Superior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 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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Comments on superior

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