English

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Etymology

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under +‎ -ling

Pronunciation

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  • Audio (US):(file)

Noun

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underling (plural underlings)

  1. A subordinate, or person of lesser rank or authority.
    • 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene ii], lines 140-141:
      The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      "I love not that underlings should perceive my wisdom."
    • 2022 December 7, Simon Shuster, “2022 Person of the Year: Volodymyr Zelensky”, in Time[1]:
      His decision to stay at the compound in the face of possible assassination set an example, making it more difficult for his underlings to cut and run. “Anyone who left is a traitor,” Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, told its members a few hours after the invasion started.
    • 2023 November 7, Rob Copeland, “‘Ray, This Is a Religion’”, in New York Magazine[2]:
      So read the email from Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, and a billionaire many times over. It would be read by more than 1,000 of his underlings at the company.
  2. A low, wretched person.

Antonyms

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Descendants

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  • German: Unterling (calque)

Translations

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See also

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