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1. Belonging to a lower or inferior class or rank; secondary.
2. Subject to the authority or control of another.
One that is subordinate.
tr.v. (sə-bôr′dn-āt′) sub·or·di·nat·ed, sub·or·di·nat·ing, sub·or·di·nates
1. To put in a lower or inferior rank or class.
2. To make subservient; subdue.

[Middle English subordinat, from Medieval Latin subōrdinātus, past participle of subōrdināre, to put in a lower rank : Latin sub-, sub- + Latin ōrdināre, to set in order (from ōrdō, ōrdin-, order; see ar- in Indo-European roots).]

sub·or′di·nate·ly adv.
sub·or′di·nate·ness, sub·or′di·na′tion (-nā′shən) n.
sub·or′di·na′tive (-nə′tĭv) adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



bench warmer A substitute or replacement; a second- or third-stringer; an idler or observer, as opposed to a participant. The term comes from sports, where it applies to those players not proficient enough to make the first team and who consequently spend most of a game sitting on the bench. The expression has also been used for hobos who while away the time on park benches.

on a back burner See ABEYANCE.

play second fiddle To play a subordinate role, to serve in a secondary capacity; to be of inferior rank or status, to be second best or second rate. Violinists, as well as other musicians in orchestras and bands, are generally categorized into classes of first, second, and third. First is comprised of the best musicians who play the lead parts; second and third consist of musicians of lesser ability who play subordinate parts.

She had inherited from her mother an extreme objection to playing, in any orchestra whatever, the second fiddle. (James Payn, A Grape from a Thorn)

take a back seat To occupy an inferior or subordinate position; to be put aside in favor of someone or something more important. The expression probably derives from the practice of preferential seating at public functions, where the front seats are always reserved for VIP’s and other persons of note, while less socially significant persons have to take the seats to the rear and consequently enjoy a less advantageous view of the proceedings. The phrase appeared in its figurative sense as early as 1859 in Harper’s Magazine.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.subordination - the state of being subordinate to something
dependence, dependency, dependance - the state of relying on or being controlled by someone or something else
2.subordination - the semantic relation of being subordinate or belonging to a lower rank or class
semantic relation - a relation between meanings
3.subordination - the grammatical relation of a modifying word or phrase to its head
grammatical relation - a linguistic relation established by grammar
4.subordination - the quality of obedient submissiveness
submissiveness - the trait of being willing to yield to the will of another person or a superior force etc.
insubordination - defiance of authority
5.Subordination - the act of mastering or subordinating someonesubordination - the act of mastering or subordinating someone
domination - social control by dominating
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun inferiority, servitude, subjection, inferior or secondary status the social subordination of women
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


[səˌbɔːdɪˈneɪʃən] Nsubordinación f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[səˌbɔːrdɪˈneɪʃən] nsubordination fsub-plot subplot [ˈsʌbplɒt] n [play, film, novel] → intrigue f secondaire
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


n (= subjection)Unterordnung f (→ to unter +acc)
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[səˌbɔːdɪˈneɪʃn] nsubordinazione f
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995
References in classic literature ?
At that moment Boris clearly realized what he had before surmised, that in the army, besides the subordination and discipline prescribed in the military code, which he and the others knew in the regiment, there was another, more important, subordination, which made this tight-laced, purple-faced general wait respectfully while Captain Prince Andrew, for his own pleasure, chose to chat with Lieutenant Drubetskoy.
The ancient governments were properly oligarchies or kingdoms; for on account of the few persons in each state, it would have been impossible to have found a sufficient number of the middle rank; so these being but few, and those used to subordination, they more easily submitted to be governed.
Chief among these was that essential part of discipline, subordination. To one imbued from infancy with the fascinating fallacy that all men are born equal, unquestioning submission to authority is not easily mastered, and the American volunteer soldier in his "green and salad days" is among the worst known.
It can place the militia under one plan of discipline, and, by putting their officers in a proper line of subordination to the Chief Magistrate, will, as it were, consolidate them into one corps, and thereby render them more efficient than if divided into thirteen or into three or four distinct independent companies.
These armies being, in the first case, rarely, if at all, called into activity for interior defense, the people are in no danger of being broken to military subordination. The laws are not accustomed to relaxations, in favor of military exigencies; the civil state remains in full vigor, neither corrupted, nor confounded with the principles or propensities of the other state.
Had no external dangers enforced internal harmony and subordination, and particularly, had the local sovereigns possessed the affections of the people, the great kingdoms in Europe would at this time consist of as many independent princes as there were formerly feudatory barons.
Thus, the grand fact in natural history of the subordination of group under group, which, from its familiarity, does not always sufficiently strike us, is in my judgment fully explained.
You, sir, know how necessary subordination is in any large establishment of servants."
They are brought also into the most perfect discipline and subordination, especially when their leaders have once got them to their scene of action in the heart of the wilderness.
In an establishment like this, where restraint upon the liberty of the students is reduced to a minimum, it is necessary that the small degree of subordination which is absolutely indispensable be acquiesced in by all without complaint or delay.
The character of the mob, if it could be called by such a name, was that of attentive subordination.
This gossiping familiarity shocked the captain's notions of rank and subordination, and nothing was so abhorrent to him as the community of pipe between master and man, and their mingling in chorus in the outlandish boat-songs.