Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of the highest order, quality, or degree; surpassing or superior to all others.
  • adjective Excessive or exaggerated.
  • adjective Grammar Of, relating to, or being the extreme degree of comparison of an adjective or adverb, as in best or brightest.
  • noun Something of the highest possible excellence.
  • noun The highest degree; the acme.
  • noun The superlative degree.
  • noun 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 The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun That which is highest or of most eminence; the utmost degree.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A word or phrase in the superlative degree: as, to make much use of superlatives.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Lifted up to the highest degree; most eminent; surpassing all other; supreme
  • adjective (Gram.) 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.
  • noun That which is highest or most eminent; the utmost degree.
  • noun The superlative degree of adjectives and adverbs; also, a form or word by which the superlative degree is expressed.
  • noun a superlative in an absolute rather than in a comparative or exclusive sense. See Elative.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The highest extent or degree of something.
  • noun grammar 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.
  • noun informal An adjective used to praise something exceptional.
  • adjective Exceptionally good; of the highest quality; superb.
  • adjective grammar Of or relating to a superlative.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

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."

    Thestar.com - Home Page

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

    Another 5001 Nights at the Movies

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

    Another 5001 Nights at the Movies

  • 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.

    Social Life in the Insect World

  • 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.

    David Sirota: What the Final Days of the Colorado Senate Race Say About the Media and the Movement

  • 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

  • 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.

    Exposition of Genesis: Volume 1

Comments

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  • 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

  • SuperBadGirl: What a superlative comment!

    March 14, 2008