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 The still-nascent foldables category has two huge hurdles to overcome: proving its durability and offering sufficient, not necessarily superlative, specs. Sohee Kim, Bloomberg.com, "Review: Can Samsung’s New Z Flip Convert iPhone Fans?," 18 Feb. 2020 Right now, there are a lot of very good barrel-makers, and a number of superlative ones. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "Is Your Rifle Barrel Shot Out?," 20 Feb. 2020 Alessandro Sabbatini, 31, is a jewelry prodigy whose elaborate earrings and bracelets are a symphony of superlative stones, hundreds of them at a time. The Editors, Town & Country, "The 2020 Town & Country Jewelry Awards," 17 Jan. 2020 Rather quietly, 21-year-old Doncic is a strong candidate for another award, an honor no Maverick in the franchise’s 40-season history has won — a category that most exemplifies how superlative his sophomore NBA season has been: Most Improved Player. Dallas News, "How’s that for an encore? Luka Doncic’s sophomore leap ranks among the statistical best in NBA history," 26 Mar. 2020 Napa, with its reputation for growing superlative Bordeaux grape varieties, has long piqued the interest of international winemakers. Shana Clarke, Fortune, "One of Bordeaux’s most revered estates is launching a new high-end wine—in Napa," 26 Feb. 2020 The ones in Washington are big on superlative adjectives. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Unhappy to Be Stuck with 2 Percent Growth," 31 Jan. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the girls superlatives, Cy Creek junior guard Rori Harmon was named Most Valuable Player. Alvaro Montano, Houston Chronicle, "Cypress basketball athletes selected to All-District 17-6A teams," 14 Apr. 2020 Speaking in superlatives, how does season 3 feel different than season 1 or 2? Dan Snierson, EW.com, "Killing Eve's Jodie Comer teases ‘transformative’ season 3 for Villanelle: ‘There’s a lot of chaos’," 12 Apr. 2020 These climbing gyms are superlative—they’re the tallest, the oldest, the most environmental. Sunset Magazine, "Solar Power, Stained Glass and Slacklines: These Are the Coolest Climbing Gyms," 26 Feb. 2020 Coach Sean Miller has famously bumped up against an Elite Eight ceiling three times in his nine years in Tucson, but even making it back to the regional final with three wins in the next two weeks would represent a superlative coaching job. The Si Staff, SI.com, "NCAA Tournament 2018 Bracket: Region-by-Region Breakdown," 11 Mar. 2018 Both teams had three players earn district superlatives. Elliott Lapin, Houston Chronicle, "Soccer: Crosby and Hargrave All-District honorees," 3 May 2020 In fact the novel cries out for the superlatives that critics — including non-Italian critics — have given to it. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, "Two Plagues in Lombardy," 11 Apr. 2020 The top player for the top private school in the area rounds out the superlatives. Adam Coleman, Houston Chronicle, "2019-20 All-Greater Houston girls basketball teams," 2 Apr. 2020 But when the final result ends up being as superlative as this one was, then the labor involved only adds to the feeling of accomplishment. Daniel Neman, chicagotribune.com, "Daniel Neman: How do you make a spectacular meal? Sometimes all it takes is a little effort," 6 Nov. 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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Superlative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superlative. Accessed 4 Jun. 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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