Definition of subaltern in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsʌb(ə)lt(ə)n/


An officer in the British army below the rank of captain, especially a second lieutenant.
Example sentences
  • This paramilitary force, which in 1861 numbered only 120 troopers, was organised into small divisions in which two or three European officers and subalterns each commanded four to six Aboriginal troopers.
  • When he went on the road he drew impressive crowds ranging from the subalterns at his old military college to the minister of defence himself.
  • Then we had another suicide, one of our newly joined subalterns, which couldn't be put down to the war.


1Of lower status: the private tutor was a recognized subaltern part of the bourgeois family
More example sentences
  • The Bhakti-Sufi movement was another major pan-Indian articulation of this stream of subaltern dissent.
  • A new type of human being was rising up from its subaltern feudal origins and making its demands known.
  • I am interested in being a good enough humanities teacher in order to be a conduit (Wordsworth's word) between subaltern children and their subaltern teachers.
2 Logic , dated (Of a proposition) implied by another proposition (e.g. as a particular affirmative is by a universal one), but not implying it in return.


Late 16th century (as an adjective): from late Latin subalternus, from Latin sub- 'next below' + alternus 'every other'.

Words that rhyme with subaltern


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sub|al¦tern

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