[ suh-pur-luh-tiv, soo- ]
See synonyms for superlative on
  1. of the highest kind, quality, or order; surpassing all else or others; supreme; extreme: superlative wisdom.

  2. Grammar. of, relating to, or noting the highest degree of the comparison of adjectives and adverbs, as smallest, best, and most carefully, the superlative forms of small, good, and carefully.: Compare comparative (def. 4), positive (def. 21).

  1. being more than is proper or normal; exaggerated in language or style.

  1. a superlative person or thing.

  2. the utmost degree; acme.

  1. Grammar.

    • the superlative degree.

    • a form in the superlative.

Origin of superlative

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Late Latin superlātīvus, equivalent to Latin superlāt(us) “excessive, extravagant” (from super- super- + lātus, used as past participle of ferre “to carry, bring” (see bear1) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English superlatif, from Old French, from Late Latin, as above

Other words for superlative

Other words from superlative

  • su·per·la·tive·ly, adverb
  • su·per·la·tive·ness, noun
  • un·su·per·la·tive, adjective
  • un·su·per·la·tive·ly, adverb
  • un·su·per·la·tive·ness, noun

Words Nearby superlative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use superlative in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for superlative


/ (suːˈpɜːlətɪv) /

  1. of outstanding quality, degree, etc; supreme

  2. grammar denoting the form of an adjective or adverb that expresses the highest or a very high degree of quality. In English the superlative degree is usually marked by the suffix -est or the word most, as in loudest or most loudly: Compare positive (def. 10), comparative (def. 3)

  1. (of language or style) excessive; exaggerated

  1. a thing that excels all others or is of the highest quality

  2. grammar the superlative form of an adjective

  1. the highest degree; peak

Origin of superlative

C14: from Old French superlatif, via Late Latin from Latin superlātus extravagant, from superferre to carry beyond, from super- + ferre to bear

Derived forms of superlative

  • superlatively, adverb
  • superlativeness, noun

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

Cultural definitions for superlative


The form of an adjective indicating the greatest degree of the quality that the adjective describes. Best is the superlative form of good; fastest is the superlative form of fast; most charming is the superlative form of charming. The usual superlative takes the ending -est. (Compare comparative.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.