See more synonyms for inferior on
  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.
  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 H2O; 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).

Origin of inferior

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin, equivalent to infer(us) lower (cf. under) + -ior comparative suffix
Related formsin·fe·ri·or·i·ty [in-feer-ee-awr-i-tee, -or-] /ɪnˌfɪər iˈɔr ɪ ti, -ˈɒr-/, nounin·fe·ri·or·ly, adverbqua·si-in·fe·ri·or, adjectivesub·in·fe·ri·or, adjective

Synonyms for inferior

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for inferior

Contemporary Examples of inferior

Historical Examples of inferior

British Dictionary definitions for inferior


  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 earthan 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
  1. an inferior person
  2. printing an inferior character
Derived Formsinferiority (ɪnˌfɪərɪˈɒrɪtɪ), nouninferiorly, adverb

Word Origin for inferior

C15: from Latin: lower, from inferus low
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

Word Origin and History for inferior

early 15c., of land, "low, lower," from Latin inferior "lower, further down" (also used figuratively), comparative of inferus (adj.) "that is below or beneath," from infra "below" (see infra-). Meaning "lower in degree, rank, or importance" is from 1530s; also in an absolute sense, "of low quality or rank."


"person inferior to another in rank, etc.," early 15c., from inferior (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

inferior in Medicine


  1. Low or lower in order, degree, or rank.
  2. Low or lower in quality, value, or estimation.
  3. Second-rate; poor.
  4. Situated below or directed downward.
  5. In human anatomy, situated nearer the soles in relation to a reference point.
Related formsin•fe′ri•ori•ty (-ôrĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.