[suh-peer-ee-er, soo-]
  1. higher in station, rank, degree, importance, etc.: a superior officer.
  2. above the average in excellence, merit, intelligence, etc.: superior math students.
  3. of higher grade or quality: superior merchandise.
  4. greater in quantity or amount: superior numbers.
  5. showing a consciousness or feeling of being better than or above others: superior airs.
  6. not yielding or susceptible (usually followed by to): to be superior to temptation.
  7. higher in place or position: We moved our camp to superior ground.
  8. Botany.
    1. situated above some other organ.
    2. (of a calyx) seeming to originate from the top of the ovary.
    3. (of an ovary) free from the calyx.
  9. Anatomy. (of an organ or part)
    1. higher in place or position; situated above another.
    2. toward the head.Compare inferior(def 7).
  10. Printing. written or printed high on a line of text, as the “2” in a2b; superscript.Compare inferior(def 9).
  1. one superior to another.
  2. Also called superscript. Printing. a superior letter, number, or symbol.Compare inferior(def 11).
  3. Ecclesiastical. the head of a monastery, convent, or the like.

Origin of superior

1350–1400; Middle English (adj.) < Latin, equivalent to super(us) situated above (adj. derivative of super; see super-) + -ior comparative suffix; see -er4
Related formssu·pe·ri·or·ly, adverbqua·si-su·pe·ri·or, adjectiveun·su·pe·ri·or, adjectiveun·su·pe·ri·or·ly, adverb

Synonyms for superior Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for unsuperior


  1. greater in quality, quantity, etc
  2. of high or extraordinary worth, merit, etc
  3. higher in rank or statusa superior tribunal
  4. displaying a conscious sense of being above or better than others; supercilious
  5. (often postpositive foll by to) not susceptible (to) or influenced (by)
  6. placed higher up; situated further from the base
  7. astronomy
    1. (of a planet) having an orbit further from the sun than the orbit of the earth
    2. (of a conjunction) occurring when the sun lies between the earth and an inferior planet
  8. (of a plant ovary) situated above the calyx and other floral parts
  9. anatomy (of one part in relation to another) situated above or higher
  10. printing (of a character) written or printed above the line; superscript
  1. a person or thing of greater rank or quality
  2. printing a character set in a superior position
  3. (often capital) the head of a community in a religious order
Derived Formssuperioress, fem nsuperiority (suːˌpɪərɪˈɒrɪtɪ), nounsuperiorly, adverb

Word Origin for superior

C14: from Latin, from superus placed above, from super above


Superior should not be used with than: he is a better (not a superior) poet than his brother; his poetry is superior to (not superior than) his brother's


  1. Lake Superior a lake in the N central US and S Canada: one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world and westernmost of the Great Lakes. Area: 82 362 sq km (31 800 sq miles)
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 unsuperior



late 14c., "higher in position," from Old French superior, from Latin superiorem (nominative superior) "higher," comparative of superus "situated above, upper," from super "above, over" (see super-). Meaning "higher in rank or dignity" is attested from late 15c.; sense of "of a higher nature or character" is attested from 1530s. Original sense was preserved more strongly in French (cf. les étages supérieur "the upper stories"), and in Lake Superior, a loan-translation of French Lac Supérieur, literally "upper lake" (it has the highest elevation of the five Great Lakes).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

unsuperior in Medicine


  1. Higher than another in rank, station, or authority.
  2. Situated above or directed upward.
  3. Situated nearer the top of the head.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.