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 Since arriving on these shores in 2016, Genesis has built its reputation on a series of no-nonsense luxury vehicles that offer spirited performance, excellent craftsmanship and superlative dependability. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 12 June 2021 The Star Tribune's Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque discuss superlative efforts across spring sports and a key meeting on the future of boys' volleyball anda girls' wrestling. Star Tribune, 5 May 2021 Her farm-to-table restaurant, Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, opened in 1971 with the simple mission of using local and organic produce to serve superlative California cuisine. Elizabeth Nicholas, Vogue, 26 May 2021 Developed by software engineers in the early 2000s, agile process management involves small, iterative bursts of work built around constant collaboration and refinement toward the end goal of a superlative deliverable. Ross Shelleman, Forbes, 20 May 2021 In the end, the Jazz can just contain too much of the perimeter penetration of guys like Keldon Johnson, Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker — all with not superlative athleticism, perhaps a little susceptible to the wily ways of the Jazz’s defenders. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 May 2021 Remember, this summer isn’t about superlative success. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 15 May 2021 If paleontologists only focused on the most superlative and strange species, the resulting image of the Mesozoic world would be distorted. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 May 2021 Many, many people in both the national media and sports-media world wanted Sam to be the next Jackie Robinson — to not merely break a metaphorical barrier, but to be a superlative star in the game. Jim Geraghty, National Review, 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This might sound like a weird superlative to give to a set of sheets, but hear me out. Helena Madden, Robb Report, 13 May 2021 But the shots came too late to prevent a grimmer statistical superlative: The UK also has one of the highest per capita Covid-19 death rates on Earth. Stephen Collinson And Richard Greene, CNN, 31 Mar. 2021 That makes this one of the deadliest avalanche seasons in recent decades — and well on pace to own the superlative before spring is over. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, Forbes, 11 Mar. 2021 But Apple’s latest superlative is not one investors would like to see. Jeff Kearns, Fortune, 30 Oct. 2020 But as the New York Times noted recently, the city does have one superlative: a higher rate of overcrowded homes (i.e. more than one person per room) than any other major metropolitan area. Popular Science, 25 Jan. 2021 The orchid’s inglorious superlative appears in a list produced by the Royal Botanic Gardens highlighting 156 species of plants and fungi that were officially named in 2020. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Dec. 2020 Mahler’s Eighth deserves another superlative, being the costliest symphony to mount. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 28 Oct. 2020 She’s been called nearly every superlative: a trailblazer, an icon, the grand dame of Chinese cuisine, the mother of modern Chinese cooking, the Julia Child of Chinese food. Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2020

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

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Superlative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superlative. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for superlative

superlative

adjective

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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