superlative

adjective
su·per·la·tive | \ su̇-ˈpər-lə-tiv \

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

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 But inside them, and especially among restitution experts, the sculpture represents a superlative example of the time, energy, money, doggedness and old-fashioned expertise required to track down a missing piece of art. Berthold Steinhilber, Smithsonian, "The Lost Maidens of Berlin," 24 May 2018 Readers may recall the superlative performance of the European model during Hurricane Harvey, and the new report helpfully includes an analysis of the best computer models for 2017. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Supercomputers are driving a revolution in hurricane forecasting," 9 May 2018 The Blue Devils and Wildcats may have turned into fiercer rivals off the court than on it, and the former has won a growing share of the programs’ head-to-head recruiting battles, but Kentucky is still going to sign a superlative group of players. Chris Johnson, SI.com, "Winners and Losers of College Basketball's 2018 Recruiting Cycle," 2 May 2018 Shortly following her superlative performance -- which featured cameos from JAY-Z, the surprise reunion of Destiny's Child and the brassy bombast of an unstoppable marching band -- Beyoncé hit Instagram with a flood of photos. Hilary Hughes, Billboard, "Bey's-Eye View: Beyoncé's Coachella Experience Through Her Instagram," 15 Apr. 2018 With his own subreddit and years of loops under his belt, his work is superlative GIFsmanship. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "The GIF Is Dead. Long Live the GIF.," 18 Aug. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Watch this video and see her hilarious superlatives for KJ, Cole, Lili, Camila and more! Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "“Riverdale” Stars Cole Sprouse and KJ Apa Are Feuding Over Instagram For The Funniest Reason," 25 June 2018 After a highly entertaining bit role in Season One of the Trump Show, Dr. Harold Bornstein disappeared, disappointing fans of the offbeat doctor whose hair flowed as freely as his medical superlatives. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Harold Bornstein Thrilled to Now Be Second-Most-Notorious Trump Doctor," 1 May 2018 Nurkic now stands as Portland’s highest-paid big man, a key superlative given Leonard’s large contract and small role. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "Grades: Blazers Finally Ink Core a Piece in Jusuf Nurkic to Team-Friendly Deal," 7 July 2018 Now, Dubai’s tendency towards superlatives is extending to the wellness world. Ashley Mateo, Condé Nast Traveler, "Dubai’s Quest to Be the 'Most Active City In the World'," 18 Apr. 2018 With the basketball season nearly wrapped up, superlatives and all district selections have arrived. Elliott Lapin, Houston Chronicle, "Area boys basketball players honored with all-district selections," 6 Mar. 2018 Others at the station, like Hannah Valian and Zachary Morgan, two crew members helping plan the events, are skeptical of that superlative but say the 2018 event could be continent’s largest Pride party to date. Shawn Waldron, National Geographic, "How These Remote Locations Celebrate LGBTQ Pride," 8 June 2018 In January, then-White House physician Ronny Jackson, who left that job amid scandal, issued a clean bill of health for the president that was so over-the-top in its superlatives that it was questioned by many medical experts. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Trump, fast-food lover and exercise avoider, tells nation about importance of fitness," 30 May 2018 All Roads North’s Journey Guides map out every superlative crook in the long and winding road, as well as driving times and lore about locales along the way. Donna Bulseco, WSJ, "The Great American Road Trip Goes Luxe—For Better or Worse," 12 July 2018

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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Statistics for superlative

Last Updated

1 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for superlative

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

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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

: 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 \

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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