[ suh-pur-luh-tiv, soo- ]
/ səˈpɜr lə tɪv, sʊ- /


of the highest kind, quality, or order; surpassing all else or others; supreme; extreme: superlative wisdom.
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).
being more than is proper or normal; exaggerated in language or style.


a superlative person or thing.
the utmost degree; acme.
  1. the superlative degree.
  2. a form in the superlative.

Nearby words

  1. superjacent,
  2. superjet,
  3. superjumbo,
  4. superkingdom,
  5. superl.,
  6. superliner,
  7. superload,
  8. superloo,
  9. superluminal,
  10. superlunar

Origin of superlative

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin superlātīvus, equivalent to Latin superlāt(us) hyperbolical (super- super- + -lātus, suppletive past participle of ferre to bear1) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English superlatif < Old French < Late Latin, as above

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for superlative

British Dictionary definitions for superlative


/ (suːˈpɜːlətɪv) /


of outstanding quality, degree, etc; supreme
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 loudlyCompare positive (def. 10), comparative (def. 3)
(of language or style) excessive; exaggerated


a thing that excels all others or is of the highest quality
grammar the superlative form of an adjective
the highest degree; peak
Derived Formssuperlatively, adverbsuperlativeness, noun

Word Origin for superlative

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

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 superlative



late 14c., from Old French superlatif (13c.), from Late Latin superlativus "exaggerated, superlative," from Latin superlatus "exaggerated" (used as past participle of superferre "carry over or beyond"), from super "beyond" (see super-) + lat- "carry," from *tlat-, past participle stem of tollere "to take away" (see extol). The noun is attested from 1520s, originally in the grammatical sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture 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.