a subordinate, especially one of slight importance.

Origin of underling

1125–75; Middle English. See under-, -ling1

Synonyms for underling

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

Examples from the Web for underling

Contemporary Examples of underling

Historical Examples of underling

  • He is an underling: I have nothing to do with him; I will speak with his master.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • It was the mistake of some underling, turning me down, after Austin's death.

    The Forbidden Trail

    Honor Willsie

  • Sira Nal's checks paled slightly with rage as he stared at his underling.

    The Players

    Everett B. Cole

  • For a long minute, Morton stared on at his underling whom he had betrayed.

    Making People Happy

    Thompson Buchanan

  • Clever he was certainly and no underling, as they had gathered from de Lestis.

British Dictionary definitions for underling



a subordinate or lackey
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 underling

late 12c., from under + diminutive suffix -ling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper