What Is a Superlative Adjective? Meaning and Examples

Updated April 14, 2023
Definition of superlative adjectives with examples from the article.
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Something that is superlative is the highest possible quality it can be. It can be the best, the worst, the tallest, or the most important — if it can’t be more, it’s superlative.

But how do you turn a regular adjective into a superlative, and how is it different from a comparative adjective?

What Is a Superlative Adjective?

Superlative adjectives put adjectives in the highest degree they can be. They typically end in -est or begin with most or least

Like all adjectives, superlative adjectives modify or describe one quality of a noun or pronoun.

  • Mark is the oldest kid in the class.
    (No one is older than Mark)
  • Percy is the cutest dog in the kennel.
    (No dog is cuter than Percy)
  • You have the longest hair I have ever seen.
    (No one has longer hair than you do)
  • Mary is the most gullible person I know.
    (No one is more gullible than Mary)
  • This is the least interesting movie I’ve ever seen.
    (No movie is less interesting than this one)

Superlative adjectives can be positive (best, most talented, prettiest), or they can be negative (worst, least talented, ugliest).

As long as they can’t get any more (or less), they’re superlative adjectives.

three lambs as example of superlative adjectives

Examples of Superlative Adjectives

How To Form a Superlative Adjective

Typically, you form superlative adjectives by adding -est to the end, or you add the adverb most in front of them.

There aren’t specific rules for when to use each, but generally, the different types of adjectives below follow different spelling patterns when in the superlative form.

Type of Adjective

Superlative Form


One-syllable adjectives
(strong, weak, cold)

Add -est to the word

He was the strongest man alive.

That’s the weakest argument.

December is the coldest month.

One-syllable CVC adjectives
(big, sad, thin)

Double the last consonant and add -est

Ike was the biggest dog in town.

I’m saddest when it rains.

We ordered the thinnest pasta.

One- and two-syllable words ending in silent E
(rare, fine, little)

Add -st to the word, since the E is already in place

What is the rarest gem?

I only wear the finest clothes.

Mike ordered the littlest pizza.

Two-syllable words ending in Y
(funny, silly, pretty)

Change the Y to an I and add -est

Bozo is the funniest clown.

Who can make the silliest sound?

Mrs. Jones has the prettiest flowers.

Two-syllable adjectives that don’t end in Y
(careful, boring, patient)

Add most before the word

The most careful drivers look both ways before they go.

That’s the most boring class I’ve ever attended.

Sandy is the most patient person we know.

Any adjectives with three or more syllables
(restrictive, annoying, talented)

Add most before the word

Our state has the most restrictive smoking laws.

Your brother is the most annoying person ever.

We watched the most talented band perform last night.


Need to Know

Some two-syllable adjectives that don’t end in Y (such as quiet, narrow, simple, or gentle) can use either an -est ending or most.

  • quietest or most quiet
  • narrowest or most narrow
  • simplest or most simple
  • gentlest or most gentle

Irregular Superlative Adjectives

Some adjectives don’t follow these patterns when in the superlative form.

Irregular Adjective

Comparative Form

Superlative Form











farther (or further)

farthest (or furthest)




Origami Bird With Flower Icons and Examples of Four Types of Adjectives

Types of Adjectives: 12 Different Forms To Know

Adding “Least” To a Superlative Adjective

If you’re describing a noun that has the lowest quality of an adjective, add least (not most) and don’t change the ending at all.

  • Kerry is the least friendly of all your sisters.
  • They have the least pretty lawn in the neighborhood.
  • Math is the least interesting subject for me.

If these sentences sound awkward to you, you may want to choose opposite superlative adjectives (meanest instead of least friendly, ugliest instead of least pretty, most boring instead of least interesting.)


Comparative Adjectives vs. Superlative Adjectives

While superlative adjectives express the highest degree, comparative adjectives compare two nouns. They end in -er or begin with more or less, and they’re followed by than.


Comparative Adjective

Superlative Adjective

My mother’s singing is good.

My mother’s singing is better than mine.

My mother’s singing is the best in the family.

Jake is tall.

Jake is taller than his brother.

Jake is the tallest of the siblings.

Your essay is short.

Your essay is shorter than hers.

Your essay is the shortest in the class.

George Washington is famous.

George Washington is more famous than John Adams.

George Washington is the most famous president.

List of comparative and superlative adjectives
    Comparative and Superlative Adjectives List
    Created by Karina Goto for YourDictionary
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Test Yourself with this Superlative Adjective Quiz