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

Just another superlative project in the superlative city. Neil Shea, National Geographic, "Tokyo became a megacity by reinventing itself," 12 June 2019 There’s plenty of superlative showmanship on display at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Tony Awards: A critic celebrates Broadway's unabashed idealism," 9 June 2019 The Rodríguez brothers now tend vineyards that slope precipitously above the meandering Sil river hundreds of feet below, and bottle some single-parcel vintages, all superlative examples of what the area can offer. Tom Downey, WSJ, "A Spanish Food and Wine Region Comes Alive Again," 6 Dec. 2018 The formula: Cram compliments for the president into a few minutes in the spotlight, and exit the stage with a valuable, superlative endorsement from a beaming president. Michael C. Bender, WSJ, "‘Never In My Wildest Dreams’: GOP Candidates Find Key to Winning Trump’s Strong Praise," 4 Aug. 2018 What companies in the U.S. sell superlative Christmas trees? Town & Country, ""Got the Snaps?"," 13 June 2015 Outsiders had good reason to think Nimmo would never develop any pop, and a corner outfielder without pop, no matter how superlative his on-base skills, is a hard sell. Jack Dickey, SI.com, "A Reworked Swing Has Brandon Nimmo, Mets Smiling in Surprise Breakout Campaign," 20 June 2018 James is coming off a standard season—27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds—and a superlative playoff run. Lee Jenkins, SI.com, "Fit For The King: LeBron James and the Lakers Form Hollywood's Ultimate Marriage," 11 July 2018 The Tonys ceremony wrapped a decidedly oddball season on Broadway, when the dearth of original plays and musicals likely to withstand the test of time was redeemed primarily by a handful of superlative revivals. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "The 72nd Annual Tony Awards: TV Review," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The incident in Indiana is not the only example of superlatives gone wrong. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A special education teacher gave her autistic student a year-end award: ‘Most annoying’," 4 June 2019 Other, spicier firsts and superlatives include the SF90 being the first-ever mid-engine Ferrari with all-wheel drive, and its V-8 engine being the most powerful eight-cylinder Ferrari has ever installed in a road car. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "The 986-HP Ferrari SF90 Stradale Plug-In Hybrid Yanks Maranello Back Into Hypercar Race," 29 May 2019 To some opponents every victory and superlative feeds the idea that the Patriots are aided by black arts. Greg Bishop, SI.com, "Suspicions of Bill Belichick's Patriots regime persist among opponents," 8 Sep. 2015 There’s one superlative saga that stands out to Sheppard: her very first wedding. Josh Snider, Popular Mechanics, "The Ferocious Cooking of Fig and Pig," 7 Dec. 2018 In the superlatives section of the 2018 Hip-Hop Yearbook, Migos would win Most Likely to Survive an Earth-Rending Apocalyptic Event. Molly Eichel, Philly.com, "If there's one hip hop trio that would survive the apocalypse, it'd be Migos," 15 May 2018 From snout to tail tip, T. rex was certainly a superlative animal. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "How We Elected T. rex to be Our Tyrant Lizard King," 21 June 2018 For most of its history, paleoanthropology has been a science built out of superlatives. Lydia Pyne, Ars Technica, "Rising Star found a new species—now it wants to find a new way for paleoanthropology," 20 Dec. 2018 In recent years cookie-cutter accommodations, endless chicken fingers, and ubiquitous water slides have given way to a superlative array of vacation choices for parents who want family time and creature comforts in equal measure. Priscilla Eakeley, Town & Country, "10 Trips That Are Truly Fun for the Whole Family," 30 Nov. 2016

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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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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Comments on superlative

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