see also: Absolute
  • (British) IPA: /ˈæb.səˌluːt/, /ˈæb.səˌljuːt/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈæb.səˌlut/, /ˌæb.səˈlut/


  1. Free of restrictions, limitations, qualifications or conditions; unconditional. [first attested in the late 1400s]
    • 1658, Samuel Hoard, God[']s Love to Mankind, Manifested, by disprooving his absolute decree for their damnation
    • 2005, Names, volume 53, page 238:
      While Americans enjoy an almost absolute freedom to name their children whatever they please, in Germany the State (as public guardian of the good of the child) restricts parents [...]
    1. Unrestricted by laws, a constitution, or parliamentary or judicial or other checks; (legally) unlimited in power, especially if despotic. [first attested in the late 1400s]
      • 1846, George Gillespie, The Presbyterian's Armoury:
        An absolute monarch is free from all forcible restraint, and so far as he is absolute[,] from all legal restraints of positive laws.
      1. Characteristic of an absolutist ruler: domineering, peremptory. [first attested in the mid 1500s]
        • 1856, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh:
          The peddler stopped, and tapped her on the head, / With absolute forefinger, brown and ringed.
        • 1962, Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, (1990), page 155:
          […] the more absolute the ruler, the more absolute the revolution will be which replaces him.
  2. Free from imperfection, perfect, complete; especially, perfectly embodying a quality in its essential characteristics or to its highest degree. [first attested around 1400]
    absolute purity, absolute liberty
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VIII”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      So absolute she seems, / And in herself complete.
  3. Pure, free from mixture or adulteration; unmixed. [first attested in the mid 1500s]
    absolute alcohol
  4. Complete, utter, outright; unmitigated, not qualified or diminished in any way. [first attested in the late 1500s]
    When caught, he told an absolute lie.   an absolute denial of all charges
    • 2008, Household Economy Approach (ISBN 9781841871196), page 3:
      The growth and acceptance of this idea followed Amartya Sen's theory of exchange entitlements, which suggested that famines occur not from an absolute lack of food but from people's inability to obtain access to that food.
  5. Positive, certain; unquestionable. [first attested in the early 1600s]
    • 1862, The Solicitors' Journal and Reporter, volume 6, page 365:
      Yet if the register is not to be absolute evidence of proprietorship, it is clear that some investigation of title would still be necessary.
    • 1913, International Record of Medicine and General Practice Clinics:
      [...] and in the absence of other signs, or when these latter are inconclusive, it is extremely useful. But it is not, under any circumstances, absolute evidence of the syphilitic nature of a given symptom or set of symptoms.
  6. (archaic) Certain; free from doubt or uncertainty (e.g. a person, opinion or prediction). [first attested in the early 1600s]
    • 1611, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act 4, Scene 2:
      I am absolute ’t was very Cloten.
    • 1856, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh:
      The colour of my hair—he cannot tell, / Or answers "dark," at random,—while, be sure, / He's absolute on the figure, live or ten, / Of my last subscription.
  7. (especially, philosophy) Fundamental, ultimate, intrinsic; not relative; independent of references or relations to other things or standards. [first attested in the late 1700s]
    the doctrine that absolute knowledge of things is possible, an absolute principle
    Absolute rights and duties are such as pertain to man in a state of nature as contradistinguished from relative rights and duties, or such as pertain to him in his social relations.
  8. (physics) Independent of arbitrary units of measurement, standards, or properties; not comparative or relative.
    absolute velocity, absolute motion, absolute position
    1. Having reference to or derived in the simplest manner from the fundamental units of mass, time, and length.
    2. Relating to the absolute temperature scale (based on absolute zero); kelvin.
    • 1903, Ice and Refrigeration, volume 24, page 49:
      His experiments led him to infer that the boiling point of the substance is probably below 9 degrees absolute.
    • 2015, Raymond A. Serway, John W. Jewett, Physics for Scientists and Engineers (ISBN 1305804465):
      This new absolute temperature scale (also called the Kelvin scale) employs the SI unit of absolute temperature, the kelvin, [...]
  9. (grammar) Not immediately dependent on the other parts of the sentence; not in a syntactical relation with other parts of a text, or qualifying the text as a whole rather than any single word in it, like "it being over" in "it being over, she left". [first attested around 1350 to 1470]
    1. (of a case form) Syntactically connected to the rest of the sentence in an atypical manner, or not relating to or depending on it, like in the nominative absolute or genitive absolute, accusative absolute or ablative absolute. [first attested around 1350 to 1470]
    2. (of an adjective or possessive pronoun) Lacking a modified substantive, like "hungry" in "feed the hungry". [first attested around 1350 to 1470]
    3. (of a, comparative or superlative) Expressing a relative term without a definite comparison, like "older" in "an older person should be treated with respect". [first attested around 1350 to 1470]
    4. (of an, adjective form) Positive; not graded (not comparative or superlative).
      • 1991, English Grammar, 3rd Edition:
        Even when the absolute form of an adverb ends in -ly, the comparative and superlative are identical with the corresponding forms of the adjective: badly, worse, worst.
    5. (of a usually transitive verb) Having no direct object, like "kill" in "if looks could kill". [first attested around 1350 to 1470]
    6. (of Celtic languages) Being or pertaining to an inflected verb that is not preceded by any number of articles or compounded with a preverb.
      Antonyms: conjunct
  10. (math) As measured using an absolute value.
    absolute deviation
    absolute square
    mean absolute difference
  11. (math) Indicating an expression that is true for all real numbers, or of all values of the variable; unconditional.
  12. (education) Pertaining to a grading system based on the knowledge of the individual and not on the comparative knowledge of the group of students.
  13. (art, music, dance) Independent of (references to) other arts; expressing things (beauty, ideas, etc) only in one art.
    absolute music
  14. (obsolete) Absolved; free. [attested from the mid 1300s until the mid 1600s]
Synonyms Antonyms
  • (free of restrictions, limitations, qualifications or conditions) conditional, limited
  • (independent of references or relations to other things or standards) relative, dependent
Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun

absolute (plural absolutes)

  1. That which is independent of context-dependent interpretation, inviolate, fundamental. [First attested in the mid 19th century.]
    moral absolutes
  2. Anything that is absolute. [First attested in the mid 19th century.]
  3. (geometry) In a plane, the two imaginary circular points at infinity; in space of three dimensions, the imaginary circle at infinity.
  4. (philosophy, usually capitalized) A realm which exists without reference to anything else; that which can be imagined purely by itself; absolute ego.
    • 1983, Lawrence Durrell, Sebastian, Faber & Faber 2004 (Avignon Quintet), page 1039:
      Withdrawn as a Buddha he sat, watching the alien world from his perch in the absolute.
  5. (philosophy, usually capitalized) The unity of spirit and nature; God.
  6. (philosophy, usually capitalized) The whole of reality; the totality to which everything is reduced.
  7. Concentrated natural flower oil, used for perfumes.
  • Portuguese: absoluto
  • Russian: абсолю́т
  • (RP) IPA: /ˈæb.səˌluːt/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈæb.səˌlut/

absolute (plural absolutes)

  1. (philosophy) That which is totally unconditioned, unrestricted, pure, perfect, or complete; that which can be thought of without relation to others. [First attested in the mid 19th century.]

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