su·​per·​la·​tive | \ su̇-ˈpər-lə-tiv How to pronounce superlative (audio) \

Definition of superlative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or constituting the degree of grammatical comparison that denotes an extreme or unsurpassed level or extent
2a : surpassing all others : supreme
b : of very high quality : excellent superlative work



Definition of superlative (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the superlative degree of comparison in a language
b : a superlative form of an adjective or adverb
2 : the superlative or utmost degree of something : acme
3 : a superlative person or thing
4 : an admiring sometimes exaggerated expression especially of praise

Other Words from superlative


superlatively adverb
superlativeness noun

Did you know?

Superlative may sound high-flown when compared with a synonym like outstanding, but if your next paper comes back from your teacher with the comment "Superlative work!" at the top you probably won't complain. Since superlative means "best, greatest", it makes sense that superlative is also a term used in grammar for the highest degree of comparison. So for the adjective simple, for example, the comparative form is simpler and the superlative form is simplest; and for the adverb boldly, the comparative form is more boldly and the superlative is most boldly.

Examples of superlative in a Sentence

Adjective The superlative form of “nice” is “nicest”; the superlative form of “bad” is “worst”; the superlative form of “interesting” is “most interesting.” the New England town meeting is a superlative example of grassroots democracy Noun “Simplest” is the superlative of “simple.”
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Proceeds from The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection–1500 superlative works of decorative and fine arts–will benefit the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts. James Reginato, Town & Country, 5 July 2022 The whole mise-en-scene proved that kicking back in high style doesn’t require much more than a good pair of swim trunks and a superlative chair (though a prime Riviera location doesn’t hurt either). Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, 22 June 2022 Tillman, like all wise coaches, puts earmuffs on the superlative talk. Jason Gay, WSJ, 12 May 2022 Rather than simply claiming your superlative status, use facts and data, then add real testimonials to back up your assertions. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 Cronenberg switched out body horror for torments of a more psychological bent in this superlative adaptation of Stephen King's 1979 novel with a screenplay by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade writer Jeffrey Boam. Clark Collis,, 3 June 2022 Which brings us to our superlative list: the best Original Netflix movies. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 16 May 2022 Even with solid-but-not-superlative reviews (75% fresh and 6.5/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) and a (frustratingly indecisive) B+ from Cinemascore, this isn’t a #CanThisFranchiseBeSaved? Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 7 May 2022 After a superlative 14-2 record in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, SOS came back to earth a bit with a 6-2 mark in the semifinals, thanks to a pair of correct picks in the late Division 2 semifinals. Mick Mccabe, Detroit Free Press, 19 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The source used a superlative to describe the state of Jenner and Scott's union. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 3 June 2022 Using the German superlative, employees referred to him as the über product manager. Brad Stone, Wired, 11 May 2021 There are plenty of familiar names, of course, including the previous Tony winners Mary-Louise Parker, LaChanze, Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster, Phylicia Rashad and Patti LuPone — the last two superlative in supporting rather than leading roles. New York Times, 9 May 2022 That question can only be answered in the context of another superlative: the U.S. claims the highest reported number of COVID cases—as well as COVID deaths—in the world. Jen Schwartz, Scientific American, 15 Feb. 2022 This is one of the country’s smallest national parks—a superlative that promises seamless car-free navigation. Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Online, 2 Nov. 2021 If the cast and crew were to give you a superlative on set, what would that be? Jessica Radloff, Glamour, 11 Feb. 2022 Its protagonists — a morose corporate also-ran (Orlando Bloom) and the peppy flight attendant (Dunst) who cheers him up — work overtime to win that superlative. Matthew Jacobs, Vulture, 2 Dec. 2021 The mission also adds another superlative to Russia’s spaceflight record over the United States: beating Hollywood to orbit., 17 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'superlative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of superlative


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for superlative


Middle English superlatif, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin superlativus, from Latin superlatus (past participle of superferre to carry over, raise high), from super- + latus, past participle of ferre to carry — more at tolerate, bear

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

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Last Updated

8 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Superlative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for superlative


su·​per·​la·​tive | \ su̇-ˈpər-lə-tiv How to pronounce superlative (audio) \

Kids Definition of superlative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : being the form of an adjective or adverb that shows the greatest degree of comparison "Best" is the superlative form of "good."
2 : better than all others : supreme superlative work



Kids Definition of superlative (Entry 2 of 2)

: the superlative degree or a superlative form in a language

More from Merriam-Webster on superlative

Nglish: Translation of superlative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of superlative for Arabic Speakers


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