in·​fe·​ri·​or | \ in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio) \

Definition of inferior

1 : of little or less importance, value, or merit always felt inferior to his older brother
2a : of low or lower degree or rank
b : of poor quality : mediocre
3 : situated lower down : lower
4a : situated below another and especially another similar superior part of an upright body
b : situated in a relatively low posterior or ventral position in a quadrupedal body
c(1) : situated below another plant part or organ
(2) : abaxial
5 : relating to or being a subscript

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Other Words from inferior

inferior noun
inferiority \ (ˌ)in-​ˌfir-​ē-​ˈȯr-​ə-​tē How to pronounce inferior (audio) , -​ˈär-​ \ noun
inferiorly \ in-​ˈfir-​ē-​ər-​lē How to pronounce inferior (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for inferior



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Examples of inferior in a Sentence

… the pearls were of inferior quality; they looked like pearlized globs of varying wrinkly shapes. — Tracie Rozhon, New York Times, 24 Aug. 2002 Sharks, rays, and ratfishes share a special burden: these cartilaginous fishes are saddled with a reputation for being somehow inferior to vertebrates blessed with bony skeletons. — Carl Zimmer, Natural History, September 2000 No longer do workers and peasants feel inferior to the university-trained. — Rhea Menzel Whitehead, Saturday Review, 4 Mar. 1972 These pearls are of inferior quality. They were considered a socially inferior group. He always felt inferior around his brother. The judges voted to overturn a ruling made by an inferior court. See More
Recent Examples on the Web My first guess is a ‘great opening word’ according to Wordle (if still inferior to crane, as always). Erik Kain, Forbes, 19 May 2022 The Bearcats went through a midseason swoon against inferior American competition but turned it on against the elite teams on the schedule. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 29 Dec. 2021 But what ultimately matters is how will the CFP selection committee view a very talented Cincinnati team that is undefeated but seems to play down to inferior competition. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, 1 Nov. 2021 Wilson, the presumptive No. 2 pick of the draft, had one phenomenal year at BYU after battling injury most of the 2019 season, but like North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, thrived against inferior competition. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, 24 Apr. 2021 In fact, his numbers were so unbelievable, most people wrote them off as stats piled up against inferior competition. Chris Hays,, 20 Apr. 2021 Lin had heard from his agent that NBA teams weren’t impressed by gaudy stats against inferior competition in the CBA. Connor Letourneau,, 15 Jan. 2021 In 2015, the Irish dropped out of the top four by fading late in the season against inferior competition. Chris Sims, The Indianapolis Star, 26 Nov. 2020 Markulin, though, had too much respect and love for the game to allow any player pile up individual stats against inferior competition. Pat Disabato,, 3 Nov. 2020 See More

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for inferior

Middle English, from Latin, comparative of inferus lower — more at under

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Time Traveler for inferior

Time Traveler

The first known use of inferior was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near inferior



inferior conjunction

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Statistics for inferior

Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inferior.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for inferior


in·​fe·​ri·​or | \ in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio) \

Kids Definition of inferior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : situated lower down (as in place or importance) an inferior court
2 : of little or less importance, value, or merit He always felt inferior to his brother.
3 : of poor quality an inferior education



Kids Definition of inferior (Entry 2 of 2)

: a less important person or thing


in·​fe·​ri·​or | \ in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio) \

Medical Definition of inferior

1 : situated below and closer to the feet than another and especially another similar part of an upright body especially of a human being — compare superior sense 1
2 : situated in a more posterior or ventral position in the body of a quadruped — compare superior sense 2



Legal Definition of inferior

: of lower status, rank, or priority

More from Merriam-Webster on inferior

Nglish: Translation of inferior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inferior for Arabic Speakers


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