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

Keep scrolling for more

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.”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But the brand’s focus on superlative raw materials means it is equally adept at turning out summer-ready staples. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Loro Piana’s Nautical-Inspired Staples Are Summer-Ready," 15 July 2019 One way is to present a superlative performance of it, which is what associate concertmaster Jung-Min Amy Lee did Saturday night. cleveland.com, "Familiar works enjoy new life on revelatory night with Cleveland Orchestra," 12 Aug. 2019 Perhaps the hostile atmosphere will inspire the disgraced duo to play some superlative innings, worthy of the hallowed trophy. M.j., The Economist, "The Ashes will feature the weakest pair of cricket teams in decades," 31 July 2019 Scott turned in a superlative freshman season at running back for IU in 2018. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU football's QB competition will lead the conversation, but better depth at RB will lead the way," 24 July 2019 Comparative and superlative forms are no longer prescribed but a matter of mood; one of my favorite movies might be titled today Dumb and More Dumb. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Semantic Drift," 22 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the superlatives, senior ace pitcher/outfielder Britton Rogers (Georgia commit) was voted Most Valuable Player, Gabi Lopez was voted Defensive MVP and Mueller was voted Coach of the Year. Alvaro Montano, Houston Chronicle, "With core group, Cy Ranch softball’s Sarah Mueller excited about challenge ahead," 15 Aug. 2019 Theater connoisseurs praised the superlative control the actor exercised over her face, voice, and body. Sharon Marcus, Vox, "The first modern celebrity was born 175 years ago," 26 June 2019 That one’s child—the carrier of one’s genetic material, the product of one’s values—might fall short of superlative is, for these people, an existential threat. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "How a Novel Can Unmake the Myth of Meritocracy," 16 July 2019 Honeck offered a superlative reading of the Mahler, a symphony the CSO has played countless times since the early Georg Solti years, but perhaps never with such blazing commitment as one heard on this occasion. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Manfred Honeck shows why he remains one of the CSO's most valued guest conductors," 26 Jan. 2018 Six years later, the Milwaukee Bucks forward earned a significantly more prestigious superlative: most valuable player. Ben Golliver, courant.com, "Antetokounmpo wins MVP as improbable rise continues," 25 June 2019 That’s not to say legitimate businesses don’t sometimes have superlatives in their names; just give keyword-heavy listings some extra scrutiny. Katherine Bindley, WSJ, "How to Spot (and Avoid) Fake Google Maps Listings," 22 June 2019 Area schools Hargrave and Crosby each had a player receive a superlative as well as multiple first team selections in their respective districts. Elliott Lapin, Houston Chronicle, "Softball: All-District selections from Hargrave and Crosby," 5 June 2019 Hundley’s savvy show is a superlative launch for the series. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "MOCA on the rebound? Three strong shows and free entry are welcome signs of change," 12 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on superlative

What made you want to look up superlative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

readily or continually undergoing change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!