un·​der·​ling | \ˈən-dər-liŋ \

Definition of underling 

: one who is under the orders of another : subordinate, inferior

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Synonyms & Antonyms for underling


inferior, junior, subordinate


senior, superior

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Examples of underling in a Sentence

He takes all the credit, but most of the hard work is done by his underlings. the real estate tycoon has a whole army of underlings to attend to the details

Recent Examples on the Web

The investigation concluded that Rao had not only fabricated data and plagiarism, but that the scientist also had tried to coerce kickbacks from his underlings. Adam Marcus, BostonGlobe.com, "Retraction Watch: Fall from grace," 29 June 2018 John Pierpont Morgan, a banker from America’s gilded age, reckoned that bosses should earn at most 20 times the pay of their underlings. The Economist, "American firms reveal the gulf between bosses’ and workers’ pay," 26 May 2018 Besides nervous Jared, Woods has played Gabe, a nervous corporate shill on The Office, and Chad, a nervous State Department underling in In the Loop. Lauren Larson, GQ, "Zach Woods in the Woods," 31 May 2018 In South Korea's hierarchical society, there's a phrase used to describe the myriad ways underlings suffer verbal and even physical abuse by their superiors, especially in the workplace. Matt Stiles, latimes.com, "Korean Air heiress throws tantrum and triggers police investigation, in latest antics of sisters," 17 Apr. 2018 On the other hand, testifying is not a task that can be delegated to underlings like the production of documents. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Showdown on a Trump Subpoena Could Overshadow Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation," 10 July 2018 When Lucchino was on the prowl at Pads offices, Towers said, perhaps with exaggeration, that one of his own underlings was known to seek out an office plant. Tom Krasovic, sandiegouniontribune.com, "All this Padres losing wouldn't sit well with Kevin Towers," 11 May 2018 All of these factors were present in Hillary Clinton’s case (and that of her underlings). Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Former CIA Agent Arrested for Mishandling Classified Information," 17 Jan. 2018 Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. The Economist, "Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'underling.' 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 underling

12th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for underling

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for underling

The first known use of underling was in the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of underling

: a person of low rank who works for a more powerful person

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