- Underling is defined as someone who does work for someone considered more important.
An example of an underling is a junior employee who works for a senior employee.
a person in a subordinate position; inferior: usually contemptuous or disparaging
Origin of underlingMiddle English ; from OE: see under- and amp; -ling
One of lesser rank or authority than another; a subordinate.Word History: The suffix –ling, inherited from Common Germanic, already had several uses in Old English, all of which produced new nouns. It could, for example, be added to a noun to make a second noun that referred to something connected with or similar to the first noun; thus, adding this suffix to the Old English word yrth, “plowland,” produced the Old English word yrthling, “plowman.” The suffix could also be added to an adjective to make a noun that referred to something having the quality denoted by the adjective: from Old English dēore, “dear, beloved,” was derived dēorling (Modern English darling). Adding –ling to an adverb produced a noun referring to something having the position or condition denoted by the adverb: from Old English under came underling. This last use of –ling is actually taken over from Old Norse. In Old Norse –ling was used to form diminutives; thus, our word gosling was a borrowing in Middle English of an Old Norse word, gæslingr, “gosling, a little goose.”