Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of the highest order, quality, or degree; surpassing or superior to all others.
  • adj. Excessive or exaggerated.
  • adj. Grammar Of, relating to, or being the extreme degree of comparison of an adjective or adverb, as in best or brightest.
  • n. Something of the highest possible excellence.
  • n. The highest degree; the acme.
  • n. Grammar The superlative degree.
  • n. Grammar An adjective or adverb expressing the superlative degree, as in brightest, the superlative of the adjective bright, or most brightly, the superlative of the adverb brightly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The highest extent or degree of something.
  • n. The form of an adjective that expresses which of more than two items has the highest degree of the quality expressed by the adjective; in English, formed by appending "-est" to the end of the adjective (for some short adjectives only) or putting "most" before it.
  • n. An adjective used to praise something exceptional.
  • adj. Exceptionally good; of the highest quality; superb.
  • adj. Of or relating to a superlative.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Lifted up to the highest degree; most eminent; surpassing all other; supreme
  • adj. Expressing the highest or lowest degree of the quality, manner, etc., denoted by an adjective or an adverb. The superlative degree is formed from the positive by the use of -est, most, or least.
  • n. That which is highest or most eminent; the utmost degree.
  • n.
  • n. The superlative degree of adjectives and adverbs; also, a form or word by which the superlative degree is expressed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Raised to or occupying the highest pitch, position, or degree; most eminent; surpassing all other; supreme: as, a man of superlative wisdom.
  • In grammar, noting that form of an adjective or an adverb which expresses the highest or utmost degree of the quality or manner: as, the superlative degree of comparison.
  • n. That which is highest or of most eminence; the utmost degree.
  • n. In grammar: The superlative degree of adjectives or adverbs, which is formed in English by the termination -est, as meanest, highest, bravest; hence, also, the equivalent phrase made by the use of most, as most high, most brave; or even of least, as least amiable.
  • n. A word or phrase in the superlative degree: as, to make much use of superlatives.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an exaggerated expression (usually of praise)
  • adj. highest in quality
  • n. the highest level or degree attainable; the highest stage of development
  • n. the superlative form of an adjective or adverb

Etymologies

Middle English superlatif, from Old French, from Late Latin superlātīvus, from Latin superlātus, past participle of superferre, to carry over a person or thing, exaggerate : super-, super- + lātus, past participle of ferre, to carry; see telə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English superlatyf, from Old French superlatif, from Late Latin superlātīvus, from Latin superlātus ("extravagant, of hyperbole"), past participle of superfero ("carry over"), from super ("above") + fero ("bear, carry"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In order to showcase the most advanced towers piercing the clouds, "Supertall!" curator Carol Willis selected a skyscraper subset of what she calls "superlative buildings."

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  • But for all that swagger, what makes Kael superlative is her femininity.

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  • It was obvious that Americans enjoyed everything in superlative form: the biggest, the best, the only, and the unique.

    SEA WOLF

  • The Super Bowl might as well be called the superlative bowl.

    Winning wings and pizzas with pizzazz for Super Bowl Sunday

  • A little patience is enough -- patience, which according to Buffon is genius; but which I, more modestly, will call the superlative virtue of the observer.

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  • Ellen Levy, a Colorado Springs resident and member of the liberal group MoveOn. org, called both Romanoff and Bennet "superlative" candidates, but said she was voting for the incumbent because of his fierce advocacy for a public option during the health care reform debate.

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  • This is the kind of superlative language reserved for Berlin Walls falling or apartheids ending, not for one person, one athlete.

    Me and Mrs. Jones

  • For such a rendering would in a measure constitute a kind of superlative (K.S. 309 1), but a superlative that bears the meaning that even Yahweh was impressed by this hunter's prowess and achievements -- a thought that strikes us as involving a rather trivial conception of God.

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  • Bim'odh me'odh constitutes, as usual in such repetitions, a kind of superlative (K.S. 318 f.).

    Exposition of Genesis: Volume 1

  • To regard the use of the divine name in this connection as merely a device for expressing a kind of superlative, as does K.S. (3091), is the shallow approach of rationalism.

    Exposition of Genesis: Volume 1

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Comments

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  • SuperBadGirl: What a superlative comment!

    March 14, 2008

  • I had a boss who used to always say that things were really "superlative", we were all doing a "superlative" job. It was like getting compliments wrapped in a generic, store-brand label.

    March 14, 2008