Last modified on 22 December 2014, at 16:48




From Middle French subalterne, from Late Latin subalternus, from Latin sub- + alternus, from alter.



subaltern (comparative more subaltern, superlative most subaltern)

  1. Of a lower rank or position; inferior or secondary; especially (military) ranking as a junior officer, below the rank of captain.
    a subaltern officer
  2. (logic) Asserting only a part of what is asserted in a related proposition.


subaltern (plural subalterns)

  1. A subordinate.
  2. (UK) A commissioned officer having a rank below that of captain; a lieutenant or second lieutenant.
    • 1891, Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray:
      She was an extraordinarily beautiful girl, Margaret Devereux ; and made all the men frantic by running away with a penniless young fellow ; a mere nobody sir a subaltern in a foot regiment, or something of that kind.
  3. (logic) A subaltern proposition; a proposition implied by a universal proposition. For example, some crows are black is a subaltern of all crows are black.


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