What are the various situations where we use the word dominant and domineering? I'm aware that both of these are adjectives (dominant is a noun, too), but, I'm not sure if they both can be used as an adjective in the same sentences.

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    Please edit your question to include what you've found in a couple of dictionaries so that people don't tell you what you already know and can focus on what was not included there. Dec 24, 2022 at 10:44

3 Answers 3


"Dominant" describes something that has power over something else, e.g. "The Catholic Church, centered in Rome, was dominant in Roman Europe until the early 16th century" (Myhill).

"Domineering" has a similar meaning, but usually a negative connotation, rather like "bullying": it could describe somebody who is forcing their will on another person. ("Domineer" is a verb.)

Another related verb: "dominate". "Smith was really dominating Jones in that tennis game!" -- or "Group X dominated Y in history, and acquired more land."

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    Not necessarily 'power' - something that's dominant may be the most common or most conspicuous kind. Dec 24, 2022 at 15:57
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    Kate is correct. I did a quick book search and found "The steppe belt expanded to the north and wormwood-bunchgrass steppe became the dominant vegetation..." -- I guess that's some kind of 'power' but yes. Not always human politics.
    – equin0x80
    Dec 24, 2022 at 15:59

An example sentence with "dominant".

They are now in an even more dominant position in the market

An example sentence with "domineering".

how can I do my job with a domineering boss yelling in my ear?

As you can see these two words have completely different meanings.

Dominant means:

having power and influence over others.

While Domineering means:

asserting one's will over another in an arrogant way.

They might be both adjectives, but they have different meanings.

Depending on the context, you can decide which word to use.

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    It is not clear whether the definitions that appear in this answer are quotations; if they are, it needs to be stated what their source is.
    – jsw29
    Dec 24, 2022 at 16:10
  • Please provide proper attribution for the text that you quote. That means title, author, and publication, or as many of those as are available. If the source is long, such as a book, please include a page number or other location also. If the source is online, please include a link also. See Marking and Attributing Examples, Sources, and Other Quotes Dec 29, 2022 at 0:55

Consider these sentences:

Michael Jordan was a dominant force on the basketball court.

Michael Jordan was a domineering force on the basketball court.

Their connotations are rather different. The first implies that MJ was able to skillfully control the ball for much of the game, while the second connotes the idea of him running around yelling at all his teammates.

“Dominant” refers to a level of control, while “domineering” refers to a perception of tyrannical control. The second has a connotation which is consistently negative, while the first is more versatile and ambiguous.

In addition, I have only ever heard “domineering” used to describe a person, while dominance can be a trait describing a variety of nouns.

Banana Boats were the dominant method of transportation in Bananaland.

Banana Boats couldn’t be domineering unless they grew a brain and a mouth.

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