superlative

adjective
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

superlative

noun

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

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Other Words from superlative

Adjective

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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Spend a few tens of thousands on optional upgrades, and the new Mac Pro becomes a list of superlative performance specs. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "The Thermodynamics Behind the the Mac Pro, the Hypercar of Computers," 10 Dec. 2019 Kingwood Park had two superlative winners on the all-District 20-5A volleyball team. Marcus Gutierrez, Houston Chronicle, "Volleyball: K-Park’s Overmyer, Williams named superlatives on District 20-5A team," 7 Dec. 2019 Sasha is the consummate literary sad woman, the superlative embodiment of an alluring silhouette: a woman contoured and whittled by her suffering, self-destructive and utterly destroyed. New York Times, "Cult of the Literary Sad Woman," 12 Nov. 2019 The corn was delicious roasted before the kernel hardened, made superlative meal and provided great winter fodder for livestock. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, "A once-famous, long-lost corn variety returns from the dead," 27 Nov. 2019 Jessye Norman thrilled the opera world for decades, with a voice that has always been described in superlative terms: shimmering, rapturous, sumptuous, magnificent. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Jessye Norman Exits the Stage: raceAhead," 1 Oct. 2019 But the brand’s focus on superlative raw materials means it is equally adept at turning out summer-ready staples. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Loro Piana’s Nautical-Inspired Staples Are Summer-Ready," 15 July 2019 One way is to present a superlative performance of it, which is what associate concertmaster Jung-Min Amy Lee did Saturday night. cleveland.com, "Familiar works enjoy new life on revelatory night with Cleveland Orchestra," 12 Aug. 2019 Perhaps the hostile atmosphere will inspire the disgraced duo to play some superlative innings, worthy of the hallowed trophy. M.j., The Economist, "The Ashes will feature the weakest pair of cricket teams in decades," 31 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The sustained sports failure of this superlative-obsessed metropolis is due to a toxic combination of better opponents, questionable coaching and front-office mismanagement. Dan Barry, New York Times, "The Lost Decade of New York Sports," 30 Dec. 2019 Porter was rewarded for its historic season with three superlative winners on the all District 9-5A, Division I team. Marcus Gutierrez, Houston Chronicle, "Football: K-Park, Porter named to District 9-5A, Division I all-district team," 6 Dec. 2019 China is alternately cast as the world’s worst climate villain or its potential clean-energy savior, but both superlatives are somewhat misplaced. Washington Post, "China’s climate paradox: A leader in coal and clean energy," 3 Dec. 2019 And as with Michigan State, a superlative offensive performance regardless of the result, Indiana got those yards. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU football cruises to its 4th straight victory over struggling Northwestern," 3 Nov. 2019 In fact, Fangio’s brevity and lack of superlatives when asked about Miller this season has led to speculation that the first-year coach and the franchise centerpiece aren’t getting along. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos’ Von Miller on perceived rift between him and Vic Fangio: “There’s no other coach I’d rather have right now”," 10 Oct. 2019 Trifonov is a performer of versatile brilliance for whom critics may soon run out of superlatives. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "Guide to the Arts: 5 must-see classical music performances this season," 1 Oct. 2019 That superlative comes from Franken's unique background as the only person who was once a member of both Saturday Night Live and the U.S. Senate. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, "Al Franken Testing Public Speaking Comeback With UTA," 23 Aug. 2019 Even in a city where a significant percentage of residents are of Middle Eastern descent, this Lebanese restaurant is a standout, with superlative stuffed lamb. Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, "A Fascinating Long Weekend in Detroit: The Essential Guide," 19 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of superlative

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

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

History and Etymology for superlative

Adjective

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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Time Traveler for superlative

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for superlative

Last Updated

19 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Superlative.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superlative. Accessed 27 January 2020.

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More Definitions for superlative

superlative

adjective
How to pronounce superlative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of superlative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

grammar : of or relating to the form of an adjective or adverb that is used to indicate the greatest degree of a particular quality
somewhat formal : of very high quality

superlative

noun

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

grammar : the form of an adjective or adverb that is used to indicate the greatest degree of a particular quality : the superlative form of an adjective or adverb

superlative

adjective
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

superlative

noun

Kids Definition of superlative (Entry 2 of 2)

: the superlative degree or a superlative form in a language

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Comments on superlative

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