Definition of inferior in English:



  • 1Lower in rank, status, or quality.

    ‘schooling in inner-city areas was inferior to that in the rest of the country’
    • ‘The thought is that such competition hurts the losers' self-esteem, by proving that they're inferior to some other kid in some specific thing.’
    • ‘During wartime, the supply of such non-essential goods as books was curtailed; and Indian bookstores are grossly inferior to London ones in any case.’
    • ‘The only conclusion that I can come up with, is that the quality of the glass in these lenses is now inferior to the glass that I have in mine.’
    • ‘Its military equipment consists of aging Soviet and Chinese stocks that qualitatively are vastly inferior to both the U.S. and South Korean militaries.’
    • ‘Since Eritrean society is still highly influenced by customary principles, the status of women in many communities is inferior to that of men.’
    • ‘Even the angels are inferior to man in status and are asked by God to pay obeisance to him.’
    • ‘‘We are not inferior to them in any field,’ was their reaction.’
    • ‘Of course, China's subs are inferior to our own.’
    • ‘Maybe New York City refrigerators are inferior to the other larger, more glamorous cooling systems elsewhere that keep milk fresher longer?’
    • ‘It seems to be a given in this society that they are automatically inferior to their male counterparts, yet nearly all of the modern nations of the world have long since debunked and moved beyond that myth.’
    • ‘It indicates an institutional sentiment towards women in uniform that they don't belong; that somehow, they're inferior to men in uniform.’
    • ‘Obviously, since it is shielded from the burden of having to please customers or compete in a real marketplace, its quality will be inferior to paid research.’
    • ‘Women's status in traditional Chukchi society was clearly inferior to that of men.’
    • ‘Buck is hinting that the 45 (short, noisy, desperate for your attention) is inferior to its sophisticated older brother, the long playing album.’
    • ‘Practitioners made it look up-to-date, however, by derisively highlighting the racism, colonialism, sexism and other failings that made past ages so inferior to their own.’
    • ‘I think a world in which governments endorse or aid religion is seriously inferior to one in which government has nothing whatsoever to say about religion.’
    • ‘Traditionally, the combat service support forces have occupied a status seen as somewhat inferior to those of the other two categories.’
    • ‘Conscripts are usually inferior to volunteers in training, combat qualities, and mental preparation for combat.’
    • ‘Simmons and Torre are clearly inferior to the other ten catchers and would rank 11 th and 12 th, respectively, in my book.’
    • ‘The situation reminds me of the commonly held view that anything ‘local’ is inferior to that from ‘foreign.’’
    lower in status, lesser, second-class, second-fiddle, minor, subservient, lowly, humble, menial, not very important, not so important, below someone, beneath someone, under someone's heel
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    1. 1.1Of low standard or quality.
      ‘inferior goods’
      • ‘Courtney began outsourcing manufacturing to India and Pakistan, but was disappointed with the inferior quality and poor fit.’
      • ‘This meant that banks, for example, sold only their own products, even though some were inferior and offered poor value.’
      • ‘‘The poor think when it's priced cheaply it's of inferior quality and the people who are better off do not want to buy what is meant for the poor,’ Manohar said.’
      • ‘I came to the conclusion that all the food available in the village was of inferior quality and meant for consumption by the poor with low purchasing power.’
      • ‘First, because of the public good (positive externality) nature of education, society at large loses from inferior standards of education.’
      • ‘For example, an entrepreneur could patent a superior standard and market it in ways that overcome the lock-in of the inferior standard.’
      • ‘His efforts also saved countless lives by rooting out contractors using inferior materials and producing shoddy equipment.’
      • ‘Four years later, at the age of 21, she had turned her back on the company and on the music industry, claiming that she was being offered inferior material and insufficient career development.’
      • ‘Studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that the uninsured and the poor receive inferior care.’
      • ‘The inevitable result will be a diminished standard of living and inferior quality of life for the average American.’
      • ‘Liebowitz and Margolis are skeptical that any convincing claim of path dependent selection of an objectively inferior standard has been established.’
      • ‘Where nets are used, they are mostly of poor quality, providing an inferior barrier against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.’
      • ‘Only a handful of paintings on show in London were of an inferior standard or problematic in some other way.’
      • ‘Zhang attributed the decline in safety qualifications to price wars that encouraged some firms to reduce standards and begin using inferior materials.’
      • ‘They are copies, made by a bootlegger to low standards using inferior materials.’
      • ‘Although Monaghan did not really test the home team the manager placed more focus on how his team performed and less about the inferior standard of the visitors.’
      • ‘It is by the judicious use of such articles of diet that a constitution may be gradually built up to resist every tendency towards flagging under the weight of inferior food substances.’
      • ‘More seriously, the lead content in the paint of some inferior toys is much higher than the national standard.’
      • ‘Meals offered at the restaurant were of inferior quality and the selection extremely poor.’
      • ‘If something's been shown to be better, do you stick with the old, inferior standard?’
      second-rate, substandard, low-quality, low-grade, downmarket, indifferent, mediocre, unsatisfactory, shoddy, shabby, deficient, flawed, imperfect, unsound
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    2. 1.2Law (of a court or tribunal) susceptible to having its decisions overturned by a higher court.
      • ‘One task that it assumed became the supervisory jurisdiction of inferior courts and tribunals.’
      • ‘Judicial review is available as a remedy for mistakes of law made by inferior courts and tribunals only.’
      • ‘A Magistrates' Court is, however, an inferior court.’
      • ‘This applies to statements made by judges, counsel, witnesses or the parties, in both superior and inferior courts.’
      • ‘Maybe it does not apply because it is an inferior tribunal, but just assume for the moment it does.’
    3. 1.3Economics Denoting goods or services which are in greater demand during a recession than in a boom, for example second-hand clothes.
      • ‘These are referred to as inferior goods and examples in most western countries include rural bus services and household coal.’
      • ‘True inferior goods are not common, but particular goods and services may benefit from some customers who buy more as incomes fall.’
      • ‘Income effects on attendance were found to be negative, which supports the idea found in previous research of hockey as an inferior good.’
      • ‘A price fall leads to a rise in real income which could result in falling demand if the good is strongly inferior.’
  • 2Anatomy
    Low or lower in position.

    ‘ulcers located in the inferior and posterior wall of the duodenum’
    • ‘The most pronounced changes involve the left posterior inferior cerebellar artery.’
    • ‘He underwent an excision of a portion of the anterior temporal lobe and inferior temporal gyrus.’
    • ‘The first lumbar may provide the inferior phrenic or middle suprarenal.’
    • ‘The lateral part of the anterior commissure traverses the inferior part of the corpus striatum.’
    • ‘The inferior thyroid, and intercostal bronchial, gastric, and phrenic veins provide venous drainage.’
    1. 2.1Botany (of the ovary of a flower) situated below the sepals and enclosed in the receptacle.
      • ‘Each disc flower is surrounded by a sharp-pointed, chaffy bract and consists of a basal inferior ovary, two pappus scales, and a tubular corolla.’
      • ‘The members of subgen. Bomarea s.str. have an inferior ovary and a dehiscent capsule.’
      • ‘The flowers, when looked at through a magnifier, reveal five yellowish-green petals surrounding an inferior ovary.’
      • ‘Four sepals are fused to form a long slender floral tube with an inferior ovary.’
  • 3(of a letter, figure, or symbol) written or printed below the line.

    • ‘The character may also have an attached superior or inferior figure.’
    • ‘Reservation 2: Nunn points out that inferior lines have, for the most part, been left out of this book.’
    • ‘Differences between the values indicated by the same inferior letter are significant at the 5% level.’


  • 1A person lower than another in rank, status, or ability.

    ‘her social and intellectual inferiors’
    • ‘Undoubtedly princes, peers and other great nobles of old stock resented the power thus vested in men whom they regarded as social inferiors.’
    • ‘Those who use ‘male privilege’ treat partners like servants or inferiors, consistently make unilateral decisions, and insist on maintaining stereotypical gender roles.’
    • ‘Furthermore, how much one had to share with guests and followers seems to have been a function of the number of social inferiors within one's orbit.’
    • ‘Nissenbaum argues that when the head of household offered presents largely to social inferiors who appeared at the door, it made sense to offer practical items from the home's own store.’
    • ‘The point was to distinguish a given individual or family from others - whether equals or social inferiors.’
    • ‘The word once meant very literally the voluntary descent from one's rank or dignity in intercourse with an inferior.’
    • ‘Her husband would respect her as a leader respects his devoted subordinates - friends but inferiors.’
    • ‘I was doing my duty, co-ordinating with my inferiors.’
    • ‘Like their social inferiors, however, the middling group was also highly vulnerable to new taxes, economic dislocations and other pressures.’
    • ‘She was a cruel and vicious woman, and did not hesitate to inflict pain upon her inferiors, be they slaves, servants, or her own flesh and blood.’
    • ‘Maintain social status by winning at least as much as your inferiors and climb the ranks by winning more than your superiors.’
    • ‘You will have to put up with the most difficult of people, live in drafty rectories, deal with ignorant superiors, and be scoffed at by your spiritual and intellectual inferiors.’
    • ‘If you wanted to insult a social inferior, you displayed your contempt by bludgeoning him with a cane.’
    • ‘Suddenly people deemed their social inferiors (Irish and British alike) were rising in the social ladder while those who would normally have been in the elite were rapidly declining.’
    • ‘Other doctors felt him arrogant, aloof and overbearing towards those whom he considered his intellectual inferiors.’
    • ‘Given that there are no animals contesting their status as inferiors to mankind, where can a human advocate of animal emancipation possibly go from there?’
    • ‘It is most evident when he refers to the middle class - especially those members of it who, through idealism or voyeurism, decided to slum it with their social inferiors.’
    • ‘This guy was trying so hard to seem charming to what he saw as a desperate social inferior, that he didn't even notice how stupid he sounded.’
    • ‘But Grandma Biscotti didn't trust Sicilians and looked down on them as social inferiors.’
    • ‘A combination of religious and cultural change, reinforced by political pressure from governments, began to wean them away from their social inferiors.’
    subordinate, junior, underling, minion, menial
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  • 2Printing
    An inferior letter, figure, or symbol.

    • ‘This mark indicates that the letter is superior to an inferior.’


Late Middle English (in inferior): from Latin, comparative of inferus low.