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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.