1. placed in or belonging to a lower order or rank.
  2. of less importance; secondary.
  3. subject to or under the authority of a superior.
  4. subservient or inferior.
  5. subject; dependent.
  6. Grammar.
    1. acting as a modifier, as when I finished, which is subordinate to They were glad in They were glad when I finished.
    2. noting or pertaining to a subordinating conjunction.
  7. Obsolete. submissive.


  1. a subordinate person or thing.

verb (used with object), sub·or·di·nat·ed, sub·or·di·nat·ing.

  1. to place in a lower order or rank.
  2. to make secondary (usually followed by to): to subordinate work to pleasure.
  3. to make subject, subservient, or dependent (usually followed by to): to subordinate passion to reason.

adjective (səˈbɔːdɪnɪt)

  1. of lesser order or importance
  2. under the authority or control of anothera subordinate functionary

noun (səˈbɔːdɪnɪt)

  1. a person or thing that is subordinate

verb (səˈbɔːdɪˌneɪt) (tr usually foll by to)

  1. to put in a lower rank or position (than)
  2. to make subservientto subordinate mind to heart

adj.mid-15c., from Medieval Latin subordinatus “placed in a lower order, made subject,” past participle of subordinare “place in a lower order,” from Latin sub “under” (see sub-) + ordinare “arrange” (see ordain). Related: Subordinance; subordinant. v.“to bring into a subordinate position,” 1590s; see subordinate (adj.). Related: Subordinated; subordinating.

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