A subaltern is someone with a low ranking in a social, political, or other hierarchy. It can also mean someone who has been marginalized or oppressed.

From the Latin roots sub- ("below"), and alternus ("all others"), subaltern is used to describe someone of a low rank (as in the military) or class (as in a caste system). Subalterns occupy entry-level jobs or occupy a lower rung of the "corporate ladder." But the term is also used to describe someone who has no political or economic power, such as a poor person living under a dictatorship.

Definitions of subaltern
  1. noun
    a British commissioned army officer below the rank of captain
    see moresee less
    type of:
    commissioned military officer
    a commissioned officer in the Army or Air Force or Marine Corps
  2. adjective
    inferior in rank or status
    synonyms: junior-grade, lower-ranking, lowly, petty, secondary
    younger; lower in rank; shorter in length of tenure or service
Word Family