un·​der·​ling | \ ˈən-dər-liŋ How to pronounce underling (audio) \

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 Washington Post and the New York Times dwelled on the same half-dozen anecdotes: One underling called him an idiot. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "We’re Surviving Trump Just Fine," 7 Sep. 2018 Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his underlings scrambled to react and reconcile the president’s sudden demand with the military’s practices and protocols. Philip Rucker, The Seattle Times, "Officials scramble to make Trump’s false assertions real," 23 Oct. 2018 The movie opens in 2001, in the northern village of Datong, where Guo Bin (Liao Fan), a member of the jianghu underworld, runs a mah-jongg parlor and enjoys the sycophantic attention of his comrades and underlings. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Justin Chang's Cannes diary 2018: Passion and politics collide in 'Ash Is Purest White,' 'Cold War'," 13 May 2018 Although there is no public record of a relationship between him and the royal court, such a senior figure in the Saudi medical establishment was unlikely to join a rogue expedition organized by an underling. David Botti, The Seattle Times, "Suspects in Khashoggi case had ties to Saudi crown prince," 16 Oct. 2018 The tyrannical Stalin had no need to explain his decision to underlings, so historians have had to guess at his purpose. Fox News, "How the woman who identified Hitler's dental remains ended up in prison," 16 July 2018 Some experts say Kim, eager to claim economic gains, may intend to blame underlings for problems before possibly launching new economic policies. Hyung-jin Kim, The Seattle Times, "Kim slams local North Koreans for unfinished power plant," 17 July 2018 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

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

24 Apr 2019

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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

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

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Spanish Central: Translation of underling

Comments on underling

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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