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 As discussed in a recent episode of the superlative SNL Stats podcast that makes tonight's show similar to the Alec Baldwin episode in 2017, following an avalanche of Trump cold open appearances. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, "Saturday Night Live recap: Maya Rudolph makes hilarious return with musical guest Jack Harlow," 28 Mar. 2021 Finally, the stirring testimony of attorney general nominee Merrick Garland before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday reminded me of an overlooked detail in the judge’s superlative résumé. Charles Mcnulty Theater Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Essential Arts: Artists heal our culture. But who will heal the artists?," 27 Feb. 2021 One more point: The Star Tribune's pandemic coverage has otherwise been superlative. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Voting rights and integrity, COVID vaccinations, Wisconsin wolf hunt,," 13 Mar. 2021 Speaking of Williams family fashion: Husband Alexis Ohanian recently wore a superlative t-shirt to support his wife at the Australian Open. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "Serena Williams Stunned in the Most Glamorous Feather-Trimmed Robe," 25 Feb. 2021 Enigmatic storytelling met superlative acting in this solo play adapted by Rona Munro from Elizabeth Strout’s novel. Charles Mcnulty Theater Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Best theater in 2020: In a year to forget, virtuoso performances to remember," 8 Dec. 2020 Our design team wanted to elevate this superlative pearl, and its perfect shape was the ideal silhouette for this necklace. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "The Rarest Pearl of All? It's Called the Melo Melo," 20 Feb. 2021 But even though this might be considered high for Jones, his superlative accuracy and poise could entice Belichick. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "NFL mock draft 2021: Justin Fields, Zach Wilson among five QBs in first-round projection," 5 Jan. 2021 Her superlative technique is rooted in inviting the viewer to see the world in a different way, whether the work is abstract, figurative, or something of a blend. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, "Legendary Detroit artist and educator Shirley Woodson wins Kresge honor and $50K," 28 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, "This Very, Very Deadly Avalanche Season Ain’t Over Yet," 11 Mar. 2021 But Apple’s latest superlative is not one investors would like to see. Jeff Kearns, Fortune, "Apple has lost $450 billion in value in just a few weeks," 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, "5 graphs that show how bad COVID-19 is in LA County," 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, "Behold the World’s Ugliest Orchid, According to Botanists," 21 Dec. 2020 Mahler’s Eighth deserves another superlative, being the costliest symphony to mount. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Miss the ecstasy and extravagance of Mahler’s Eighth? You’re not alone," 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, "Cecilia Chiang, pioneer of Chinese cuisine, dies at 100," 2 Nov. 2020 Texas even has regained an undesirable superlative: In 2016, Alaska had the nation’s worst uninsured rate for children — 10.3%, compared with Texas' 9.8% that year. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Texas children without health coverage swelled to nearly 1 million last year, up 32% over three years," 9 Oct. 2020 Travel industry leaders spared no superlative in March when describing the instant devastation from the unfolding coronavirus crisis. USA Today, "'Global, sudden, violent': Travel industry clobbered by coronavirus pandemic, struggles to rebound," 14 Sep. 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

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Superlative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superlative. Accessed 12 Apr. 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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Comments on superlative

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