inferior

adjective

in·​fe·​ri·​or in-ˈfir-ē-ər How to pronounce inferior (audio)
1
: of little or less importance, value, or merit
always felt inferior to his older brother
2
a
: of low or lower degree or rank
b
: of poor quality : mediocre
3
: situated lower down : lower
4
a
: 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)
5
: relating to or being a subscript
inferior noun
inferiority noun
inferiorly adverb

Example Sentences

… 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 Not that wines from Pennsylvania, Texas or elsewhere are inferior, but hard to find. Dave Mcintyre, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2022 In her book Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, Dr. Strings talks about how white colonial thought used body size as a way to argue that Black people were inferior. Christine Byrne, Mph, SELF, 21 Sep. 2022 Plus, in two games this season against Joe Mixon and Damien Harris — both of whom are slightly inferior to Chubb — the Steelers have surrendered 153 total rushing yards and one touchdown. Nick Hennion, Chicago Tribune, 22 Sep. 2022 While each manufacturer touts the advantage of their mapping method and map type versus an another, all have their pros and cons, and none is definitively superior or inferior to another. Stewart Wolpin, Popular Mechanics, 12 Aug. 2022 Many things in Europe are inferior to what's in the United States. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 24 June 2022 The Trojans open Pac-12 Conference play against the Cardinal after both teams started the season with easy wins against inferior opponents. John Scheibe, Los Angeles Times, 8 Sep. 2022 For context, four came in garbage time against inferior opponents. Stephen Means, cleveland, 29 Dec. 2021 These cupcakes earn big paydays for their athletic departments, which makes the school shelling out sometimes millions to play inferior opponents either out of touch with the times or downright insane. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 22 Nov. 2021 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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near inferior

Cite this Entry

“Inferior.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inferior. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

inferior 1 of 2

adjective

in·​fe·​ri·​or
in-ˈfir-ē-ər
1
: situated lower down
2
: of low or lower degree or rank
3
: of little or less importance, value, or merit

inferior

2 of 2

noun

: an inferior person or thing

Medical Definition

inferior

adjective

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

inferior

adjective

in·​fe·​ri·​or
: of lower status, rank, or priority

More from Merriam-Webster on inferior

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