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superlative

[suh-pur-luh-tiv, soo-]
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adjective
  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).
  3. being more than is proper or normal; exaggerated in language or style.
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noun
  1. a superlative person or thing.
  2. the utmost degree; acme.
  3. Grammar.
    1. the superlative degree.
    2. a form in the superlative.
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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 formssu·per·la·tive·ly, adverbsu·per·la·tive·ness, nounun·su·per·la·tive, adjectiveun·su·per·la·tive·ly, adverbun·su·per·la·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for superlative

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for superlative

Contemporary Examples of superlative

Historical Examples of superlative

  • And superlative morality is found, of course, only in the newspapers.

    Another Sheaf

    John Galsworthy

  • It tells a story of superlative defiance––the defiance of death.

  • It is not that they revealed a superlative degree of disorganization.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • The comparative is declined weak, but the superlative is declined strong and weak.

  • He who has a superlative for everything, wants a measure for the great or small.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)


British Dictionary definitions for superlative

superlative

adjective
  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 loudlyCompare positive (def. 10), comparative (def. 3)
  3. (of language or style) excessive; exaggerated
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noun
  1. a thing that excels all others or is of the highest quality
  2. grammar the superlative form of an adjective
  3. the highest degree; peak
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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

adj.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

superlative in Culture

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.)

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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.