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Definition of "subaltern" [sub•al•tern]

  • Lower in position or rank; secondary. (adjective)
  • Chiefly British Holding a military rank just below that of captain. (adjective)
  • Logic In the relation of a particular proposition to a universal with the same subject, predicate, and quality. (adjective)
  • A subordinate. (noun)
  • Chiefly British A subaltern officer. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "subaltern" in a sentence
  • "The term subaltern suggests an interest in social class but more generally it is also a methodological orientation that opens up the study of logics of subordination."
  • "I am sure (if you get newspapers in Ceylon) jump into your mind the moment I mention the word subaltern, and I may as well tell you that in associating me with any one of these deeds at the present time you are entirely wrong."
  • "Now, there has been an enormous amount of ink spilled on the question of why the Latin American subaltern studies group split up -- no doubt more ink thank the group itself spilled while it existed."