View synonyms for inferior


[ in-feer-ee-er ]


  1. lower in station, rank, degree, or grade (often followed by to ):

    a rank inferior to colonel.

  2. lower in place or position; closer to the bottom or base:

    descending into the inferior regions of the earth.

  3. of comparatively low grade; poor in quality; substandard:

    an inferior product.

    Synonyms: second-rate, low-quality, mediocre

  4. less important, valuable, or worthy:

    B+ bonds are inferior to AAA bonds.

  5. acting or performing in a way that is comparatively poor or mediocre:

    an inferior observer of human nature.

  6. Botany.
    1. situated below some other organ.
    2. (of a calyx) inserted below the ovary.
    3. (of an ovary) having a superior calyx.
  7. Anatomy. (of an organ or part)
    1. lower in place or position; situated beneath another.
    2. toward the feet. Compare superior ( def 9 ).
  8. Astronomy. lying below the horizon:

    the inferior part of a meridian.

  9. Printing. written or printed low on a line of text, as the “2” in H 2 O; subscript. Compare superior ( def 10 ).


  1. a person inferior to another or others, as in rank or merit.
  2. Also called subscript. Printing. a letter, number, or symbol written or printed low on a line of text. Compare superior ( def 12 ).


/ ɪnˈfɪərɪə; ɪnˌfɪərɪˈɒrɪtɪ /


  1. lower in value or quality
  2. lower in rank, position, or status; subordinate
  3. not of the best; mediocre; commonplace
  4. lower in position; situated beneath
  5. (of a plant ovary) enclosed by and fused with the receptacle so that it is situated below the other floral parts
  6. astronomy
    1. orbiting or occurring between the sun and the earth

      an inferior planet

      inferior conjunction

    2. lying below the horizon
  7. printing (of a character) printed at the foot of an ordinary character, as the 2 in H 2 O
“Collins English Dictionary — Complete & Unabridged” 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


  1. an inferior person
  2. printing an inferior character
“Collins English Dictionary — Complete & Unabridged” 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Derived Forms

  • inˈferiorly, adverb
  • inferiority, noun
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Other Words From

  • in·fe·ri·or·i·ty [in-feer-ee-, awr, -i-tee, -, or, -], noun
  • in·fe·ri·or·ly adverb
  • qua·si-in·fe·ri·or adjective
  • sub·in·fe·ri·or adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of inferior1

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin, equivalent to infer(us) “lower” ( under ) + -ior comparative suffix
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Word History and Origins

Origin of inferior1

C15: from Latin: lower, from inferus low
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Example Sentences

I was not inadequate or inferior, but trying to fit into spaces that had not been created with people like me in mind.

The nub of her argument, whether acting for men or women plaintiffs, was that treating men and women differently under the law helped tokeep woman in her place, a place inferior to that occupied by men in our society.

To some degree the AMP initiative is part of that, making sure that the mobile web experience isn’t completely inferior to the app experience.

After the census office used inferior paper cards that left fibers in the mercury, Hollerith required his customers to purchase his own high-quality cards.

Just because you live alone doesn’t mean that you’re somehow living an inferior life.

Some were blatantly inferior, he said, at times with metal shavings and burrs in the threads.

Think about this: music is the only branch of the entertainment world to embrace progressively inferior technologies.

While it came with multiple different preset control styles, it was still an inferior system.

People listen to it on tinny cellphone speakers that are entirely inferior to what they had in lo-tech times of yore.

Adderall is an inferior drug, asserts Hart, because of its side effects.

Then we are again overgrown boys, beings of inferior race and incapable of being civilized.

But closely allied to this subject, and not inferior to it in importance, stands that of Industrial Training.

Dearer than the cigarritos are the cigars, which are not inferior to the best Havanna.

He is thought to be little inferior to Racine in the merit of his dramatic compositions.

But, glad as was the schemer, his delight and sense of freedom were much inferior to those of his misguided and unlucky partner.


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More About Inferior

What does inferior mean?

Inferior most commonly means lesser or lower in quality or worth.

Inferior is commonly applied to things that are considered not as good as other similar things, especially products. However, inferior is also used to describe how some people are treated as lesser than others. In both cases, it is the opposite of superior, meaning better. Inferior is also used in more specific ways in sciences like anatomy, botany, and astronomy to describe a low position.

Example: The new, more expensive model is inferior to the old model in every way—even the packaging is not as good.

Where does inferior come from?

The first records of inferior come from the 1400s. It derives from the Latin inferus, meaning “low.” The suffix -ior is used to form comparative adjectives (as in ulterior and junior).

The specific meaning of inferior often depends on what it’s applied to. If a product is inferior to another one, it means it’s not as good. If a device has inferior battery life, it means its battery doesn’t last as long as other devices. If a team is said to have inferior talent, it means it has less talent than other teams. If a soldier’s rank is inferior to another soldier, it means it is lower.

When inferior is applied to people, especially classes or groups of people, it is being used in an offensive way. When people treat other people as inferior, it means they are judging them on some aspect of their identity that they consider lesser than their own. Racists treat people as inferior based on the color of their skin—and consider themselves superior.

When used in a scientific context, inferior often has a specific meaning related to the position of something. In anatomy, inferior is used to describe a body part that is located in a lower position or, even more specifically, toward the feet. In botany, it is used in much the same way, except of course that it refers to plant parts. In astronomy, describing something as inferior indicates that it is below the horizon.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to inferior?

  • inferiority (noun)
  • inferiorly (adjective)
  • quasi-inferior (adjective)
  • subinferior (adjective)

What are some synonyms for inferior?

What are some words that share a root or word element with inferior

What are some words that often get used in discussing inferior?

How is inferior used in real life?

Inferior is commonly used in the comparison of two things to state that one of them is of lower quality than the other, such as by customers unhappy with their purchases. It is also used to describe how certain groups are treated as lesser than others.



Try using inferior!

Is inferior used correctly in the following sentence?

If we keep releasing inferior products that aren’t up to our normal standards, our customers are going to notice.




inferential statisticsinferior conjunction