1. lower in station, rank, degree, or grade (often followed by to): a rank inferior to colonel.
  2. lower in place or position; closer to the bottom or base: descending into the inferior regions of the earth.
  3. of comparatively low grade; poor in quality; substandard: an inferior product.
  4. less important, valuable, or worthy: B+ bonds are inferior to AAA bonds.
  5. acting or performing in a way that is comparatively poor or mediocre: an inferior observer of human nature.
  6. Botany.
    1. situated below some other organ.
    2. (of a calyx) inserted below the ovary.
    3. (of an ovary) having a superior calyx.
  7. Anatomy. (of an organ or part)
    1. lower in place or position; situated beneath another.
    2. toward the feet.Compare superior(def 9).
  8. Astronomy. lying below the horizon: the inferior part of a meridian.
  9. Printing. written or printed low on a line of text, as the “2” in H2O; subscript.Compare superior(def 10).


  1. a person inferior to another or others, as in rank or merit.
  2. Also called subscript. Printing. a letter, number, or symbol written or printed low on a line of text.Compare superior(def 12).


  1. lower in value or quality
  2. lower in rank, position, or status; subordinate
  3. not of the best; mediocre; commonplace
  4. lower in position; situated beneath
  5. (of a plant ovary) enclosed by and fused with the receptacle so that it is situated below the other floral parts
  6. astronomy
    1. orbiting or occurring between the sun and the earthan inferior planet; inferior conjunction
    2. lying below the horizon
  7. printing (of a character) printed at the foot of an ordinary character, as the 2 in H 2 O


  1. an inferior person
  2. printing an inferior character

early 15c., of land, “low, lower,” from Latin inferior “lower, further down” (also used figuratively), comparative of inferus (adj.) “that is below or beneath,” from infra “below” (see infra-). Meaning “lower in degree, rank, or importance” is from 1530s; also in an absolute sense, “of low quality or rank.”


“person inferior to another in rank, etc.,” early 15c., from inferior (adj.).


  1. Low or lower in order, degree, or rank.
  2. Low or lower in quality, value, or estimation.
  3. Second-rate; poor.
  4. Situated below or directed downward.
  5. In human anatomy, situated nearer the soles in relation to a reference point.
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