un·​der·​ling ˈən-dər-liŋ How to pronounce underling (audio)
: one who is under the orders of another : subordinate, inferior

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 Illig maintains that the three rulers tinkered with documents at the time, made up historical events (such as Charlemagne), planted fake evidence to be dug up centuries later, and commanded their underlings to back them up. Benjamin Plackett, Discover Magazine, 4 Oct. 2023 None of his underlings spent time in jail for killing protesters. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, 25 Sep. 2023 Respect at Tesla comes from expertise, not rank, and people are willing to pass on insight to anyone who asks, without worrying about losing stature from talking to underlings. Behnam Tabrizi, Fortune, 3 Aug. 2023 That includes the analytical framework developed at McKinsey for distilling a problem and communicating to get buy-in from underlings. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 16 Aug. 2023 But after countless Octobers of pinstripes and Green Monsters, and divisional dominance abetted in part by their underlings’ futility, the division has finally turned upside down. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 25 Aug. 2023 Hopping into the back seat of his limousine (decked out with a car phone, an exotic luxury at the time), Harry is informed by his right-hand man, Max (Henry Nemo), that his underlings—mostly people of color—have grown restive in his absence. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 23 Aug. 2023 In a running joke, Victoria persists in calling one of her underlings (Harvey Guillén) Sanchez, though that is not his name. Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post, 16 Aug. 2023 Weiss and his underlings used the pendency of the 2020 presidential campaign as an excuse to instruct the IRS and FBI agents on the case not to take measures that might call attention to the investigation and thus influence the election. The Editors, National Review, 21 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'underling.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near underling

Cite this Entry

“Underling.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/underling. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​der·​ling ˈən-dər-liŋ How to pronounce underling (audio)
: one who is under the orders of another : subordinate
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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