mid-15c., "having an inferior rank," from Medieval Latin subordinatus "placed in a lower order, made subject," past participle of subordinare "place in a lower order," from Latin sub "under" (see sub-) + ordinare "arrange, set in order," from ordo (genitive ordinis) "row, rank, series, arrangement" (see order (n.)). Related: Subordinance; subordinant; subordinately. For "of or pertaining to the classificatory rank of a suborder," subordinal (1842) is used.
"to bring into a subordinate position to something else, to make of less value, to make auxiliary or dependent," 1590s, from Medieval Latin subordinatus (see subordinate (adj.)). Related: Subordinated; subordinating.