sub·al·tern (sŭb-ôltərn, sŭbəl-tûrn′)
1. A person who is lower in position or rank; a subordinate.
a. A person who is marginalized and oppressed by the dominant culture, especially in a colonial context.
b. Such people considered as a group.
3. Chiefly British An officer holding a military rank just below that of captain.
4. Logic A particular proposition that follows from a universal with the same subject, predicate, and quality.
[French subalterne, from Old French, from Late Latin subalternus : Latin sub-, sub- + Latin alternus, alternate (from alter, other; see al-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus