Definition of subordinate in English:


Pronunciation /səˈbôrd(ə)nət/ /səˈbɔrd(ə)nət/ /səˈbôrdənāt/ /səˈbɔrdəneɪt/

See synonyms for subordinate

Translate subordinate into Spanish


  • 1Lower in rank or position.

    ‘his subordinate officers’
    • ‘Though corruption has been rampant among the subordinate ranks, senior officers, by and large, were not tainted by corruption.’
    • ‘It is noteworthy that all the members of the court-martial, appointed by the convening officer, were subordinate in rank to him.’
    • ‘Thus women are now in the workforce but in positions where they are subordinate to men and under their control.’
    • ‘No job is more important than another; no position is subordinate to another.’
    • ‘The Dutch Republic is presented as an early example of a state in which the nobility lost their leading position as they became subordinate to merchant patricians.’
    • ‘The same Articles state that such executive power shall be exercised by the President or Governor through officers subordinate to him.’
    • ‘In spite of young Kano's academic superiority he was relegated to a subordinate position, because of his physical inferiority.’
    • ‘For a population that has been forced into a permanent subordinate position by an occupying power, this disparity is not only a hardship but a searing humiliation as well.’
    • ‘Some people are proud to be bestowed with ‘polygamy awards’ - which explicitly place women in a subordinate position in society.’
    • ‘To Zohra, who obtained a master's degree from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, the subordinate position of women in a variety of fields must be opposed.’
    • ‘Of relevance here to the new pattern of migration is the relegation of women to a subordinate position.’
    • ‘The negative side of his personality suggests that he strongly dislikes being in subordinate positions.’
    • ‘Leith is languid, conceited, a natural leader of men despite his subordinate rank.’
    • ‘This ownership or control over labor might be developed through the lineage, where junior members were subordinate to the senior members, though this is less visible in older documentation.’
    • ‘However, the figure of the virgin and its supporting theology are subordinate to her son.’
    • ‘A more serious problem is that their economic dependence may result in their finding themselves in a subordinate position in their families.’
    • ‘To begin with, men may be able to reap the benefits of church-based support because, unlike women, they generally do not occupy a subordinate position in the church.’
    • ‘The woman's double exposure, to the physical longing of the man and to the insistent gaze of the narrator, places her in a typically subordinate and powerless position.’
    • ‘This recognises the power of the State and its ability to get things done, but critically also recognised that Soviet society was able to negotiate with the State even if from an unequal and subordinate position.’
    • ‘Although this was by no means an uncommon pattern in late nineteenth-century Europe, it reflected Italy's relatively subordinate position on international markets.’
    lower-ranking, junior, lower, lesser, inferior, lowly, minor, supporting
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Of less or secondary importance.
      ‘in adventure stories, character must be subordinate to action’
      • ‘From this perspective, the function of good and/or evil in the morality play is important but subordinate to the role of protagonist/hero.’
      • ‘Historically, the tradition has viewed the first and second foci as subordinate to the third.’
      • ‘If, on the other hand, he is an act- or rule-utilitarian, he would seem to give character a role that is subordinate to reason.’
      • ‘But John's role as baptizer is subordinate to his main task, which is to bear witness to Jesus.’
      • ‘As secondary theories, they were subordinate to alternative theories but assumed importance when the onset of diabetes seemed to have no biological or lifestyle basis.’
      • ‘There is an element of caramelization in the browning of foods which are deep fried; but this is subordinate to the more important sugar-amine browning.’
      • ‘Second, experience may reveal that our operating principles are subordinate to even more fundamental principles that should overrule them.’
      • ‘As for the theatrical cut - it's clearly subordinate to the extended cut that's on the second DVD release.’
      • ‘These are accessory phases, commonly subordinate to the simple sulphides, in many types of mineral deposits.’
      • ‘It should be noted that different clay minerals are stable at the low pH level in the gut in comparison with sea water, although this is likely to be of subordinate importance relative to the kinetic effect of decreased pH.’
      • ‘Imperial policy was designed to benefit the British metropolis principally and its subordinate provinces secondarily.’
      • ‘The second is the subordinate colour, which is used to substantiate the claim the primary colour holds on the viewers attention.’
      • ‘What the authors/protagonists say at any given juncture of the text is of subordinate importance to the way they say it.’
      • ‘In other words, containment's second, subordinate goal was regime change.’
      • ‘Though important, that question is subordinate to another.’
      • ‘He painted many easel pictures as well as murals, and though he insisted they were subordinate to his wall paintings, they were important in helping to establish his international reputation.’
      • ‘Aboriginal rights are generally subordinate to other public policy priorities, and as a result distinct cultures are threatened’
      • ‘Creeds and confessions are important, but they are subordinate to the Word and must be judged by the Word.’
      • ‘Robinson tried to bring the baptism of the Spirit and water baptism together though he continued to speak of the external act as subordinate and secondary to the baptism of the Spirit.’
      • ‘The second is a subordinate level process that refines the precise timing of the movement.’
      secondary, lesser, minor, subsidiary, subservient, ancillary, auxiliary, attendant, peripheral, marginal, of little account, of little importance
      View synonyms


  • A person under the authority or control of another within an organization.

    ‘he was mild-mannered, especially with his subordinates’
    • ‘The commander of any level is supposed to pay serious attention to work with his subordinates and organize control over their activities.’
    • ‘The mere absence of formal legal authority to control the actions of subordinates should therefore not be understood to preclude the imposition of such responsibility.’
    • ‘To limit the number of decisions the commander and staff must make, subordinates must have the authority to make decisions.’
    • ‘Used to being served and obeyed, these generals tend to be content simply with receiving information from sports organization officials and subordinates, which unfortunately is not always correct.’
    • ‘The second element of command responsibility is the failure to take reasonable measures to control one's subordinates by preventing atrocities or punishing the perpetrators.’
    • ‘Sometimes male workers collectively mocked and challenged managerial and supervisory claims for respect and authority from their shop-floor subordinates.’
    • ‘The syllabus consists of a series of activities where students are required to demonstrate leadership within a section of subordinates and competently guide them through a practical exercise.’
    • ‘In this way trust and confidence will be built among joint forces air component commanders and their staffs, and also among higher authorities toward their subordinates.’
    • ‘Assisted by the staff, they visualize the operation, describe it in terms of intent and guidance, and direct the actions of subordinates within that intent.’
    • ‘In some cultures, persons who hold authority consider their subordinates to be very different from themselves and vice versa.’
    • ‘Leaders control the behavior of subordinates by what they evaluate.’
    • ‘Later in the game he'll have the possibility to control subordinates.’
    • ‘But reading the riot act is what parents do to children, what teachers do to pupils, and what people in authority do to subordinates.’
    • ‘Do you anticipate any resistance to your authority from your subordinates, almost all of whom are male?’
    • ‘In certain cases, this type of leader has created calamitous results for both subordinates and the organization.’
    • ‘Chen has criticized upper level prosecutors general for failing to control their more reckless subordinates.’
    • ‘Some great commanders showed a determination to control their subordinates, to enforce order, and even to attempt reforms.’
    • ‘If you decide to apply the proposed actions, the next few weeks should be more bearable - in fact, you will probably be amazed at the surge of motivation and positive energy within your subordinates!’
    • ‘Presuming that he is honest about his own attitudes, it is vital that he make every effort to discern those of his subordinates in order to achieve harmony within his organization.’
    • ‘All the other deities are subordinates in a strictly organized hierarchy.’
    junior, assistant, second, second in command, number two, right-hand man, right-hand woman, deputy, aide, adjutant, subaltern, apprentice, underling, flunkey, minion, lackey, mate, inferior
    View synonyms

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Treat or regard as of lesser importance than something else.

    ‘practical considerations were subordinated to political expediency’
    • ‘Fire safety is far too important to be subordinated to political agendas.’
    • ‘I'm selfish, egotistical and self-indulgent, but not so much so that I cannot recognise the times when my selfish occupations need to be subordinated to the common good.’
    • ‘But there is something transcendental about shared values that shouldn't be subordinated to tactical requirements.’
    • ‘We are subordinated to a lot of different things.’
    • ‘Certainly Americans will not passively watch their nation's distinctive ideas of justice be subordinated to any other standards.’
    • ‘It's cramped, it's hideously ugly, and even in the sunshine it has the effect of proclaiming that all individual joy in life has been subordinated to some dour commercial purpose.’
    • ‘Under trade agreements every value, human rights, workers rights and environmental standards, are subordinated to economic values.’
    • ‘‘Efficiency is subordinated to efficacy’ is a neat phrase, but is it a true one?’
    • ‘Undoubtedly this issue would have to be given due consideration by any couple in such a predicament, but I believe that it should be subordinated to the moral concerns.’
    • ‘Among journalists, the truth has always been subordinated to petty envy and fictionalized morality tales.’
    • ‘The notion that these people should be subordinated to the welfare of a majority of mediocrities who cannot make it in world markets is repugnant.’
    • ‘But, in each case, that individual's welfare is subordinated to the collective goal.’
    • ‘Sometimes human rights will be given a very high priority; sometimes they will have to be subordinated to other interests.’
    • ‘So what it does allow is the economic welfare of the country to be subordinated to some over-arching political interest.’
    • ‘The result is that primary literature is becoming subordinated to criticism, a reversal of priorities.’
    • ‘Most were working in circumstances where social mores were subordinated to much more compelling things like the need to survive.’
    • ‘Mum thinks this explains why I'm always forgetting things, since the present is always subordinated to the future.’
    • ‘The question of whether an action is right or wrong is subordinated to the question of whether or not it will lead to a firmer grip on power for the prince.’
    • ‘Journalism is subordinated to entertainment, and the duty to inform yields to the need to please.’
    • ‘The values of justice and tolerance should not be subordinated to the power objective.’
    1. 1.1Make subservient to or dependent on something else.
      ‘to define life would be to subordinate it to reason’
      • ‘In the handling of security, both the local military and police are subordinated to the governor.’
      • ‘Suffice it to say that either from ignorance of his merits or from jealousy by the Richmond authorities he was subordinated to those who were greatly his inferiors and denied the prominence to which his talents and abilities entitled him.’
      • ‘New Christian doctrines stripped Sophia of her divine qualities, dramatically subordinating her to the Father and to Christ as her male partner and savior.’


Late Middle English from medieval Latin subordinatus ‘placed in an inferior rank’, from Latin sub- ‘below’ + ordinare ‘ordain’.