• (RP) IPA: /ˈpɒzɪ̈tɪv/
  • (GA) enPR: pŏzʹĭ-tĭv, IPA: /ˈpɑzɪ̈tɪv/


  1. Not negative or neutral.
  2. (legal) Formally laid down. [from the 14th c.]
    • 1594, Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie
      In laws, that which is natural bindeth universally; that which is positive, not so.
  3. Stated definitively and without qualification. [from the 16th c.]
    • 1622, Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban [i.e. Francis Bacon], The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh, […], London: Printed by W[illiam] Stansby for Matthew Lownes, and William Barret, OCLC 1086746628 ↗:
      Positive words, that he would not bear arms against King Edward’s son.
  4. Fully assured in opinion. [from the 17th c.]
    I’m absolutely positive you've spelt that wrong.
  5. (mathematics) Of number, greater than zero. [from the 18th c.]
  6. Characterized by constructiveness or influence for the better.
    • 1701, Jonathan Swift, A Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions between the Nobles and the Commons in Athens and Rome
      unless another law shall at the same time pass, with no other view but that of advancing the power of one party alone; what is this but to claim a positive voice, as well as a negative?
  7. Overconfident, dogmatic.
    • 1709, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Criticism, London: Printed for W. Lewis […], published 1711, OCLC 15810849 ↗:
      Some positive, persisting fops we know, That, if once wrong, will needs be always so.
  8. (chiefly, philosophy) Actual, real, concrete, not theoretical or speculative.
    • 1597 Francis Bacon, The Colours of Good and Evil
      The flower or blossom is a a positive good.
  9. (physics) Having more protons than electrons.
    A cation is a positive ion as it has more protons than electrons.
  10. (grammar) Describing the primary sense of an adjective, adverb or noun; not comparative, superlative, augmentative nor diminutive.
    ‘Better’ is an irregular comparative of the positive form ‘good’.
  11. Derived from an object by itself; not dependent on changing circumstances or relations; absolute.
    The idea of beauty is not positive, but depends on the different tastes of individuals.
  12. Characterized by the existence or presence of distinguishing qualities or features, rather than by their absence.
    The box was not empty – I felt some positive substance within it.
  13. Characterized by the presence of features which support a hypothesis.
    The results of our experiment are positive.
  14. (photography) Of a visual image, true to the original in light, shade and colour values.
    A positive photograph can be developed from a photographic negative.
  15. Favorable, desirable by those interested or invested in that which is being judged.
    The first-night reviews were largely positive.
  16. Wholly what is expressed; colloquially downright, entire, outright.
    Good lord, you've built up a positive arsenal of weaponry here.
  17. Optimistic. [from the 20th c.]
    He has a positive outlook on life.
  18. (chemistry) electropositive
  19. (chemistry) basic; metallic; not acid; opposed to negative, and said of metals, bases, and basic radicals.
  20. (slang) HIV positive.
    • quoted in 2013, William I. Johnston, HIV-Negative: How the Uninfected Are Affected by AIDS (page 145)
      We certainly told him at that time that I was negative. We talked about transmission. We told him we don't do anything that would cause me to become positive.
  21. (New Age jargon) Good, desirable, healthful, pleasant, enjoyable; (often precedes 'energy', 'thought', 'feeling' or 'emotion').
    • 2009, Christopher Johns, Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, John Wiley & Sons, p. 15 ↗
      Negative feelings can be worked through and their energy converted into positive energy... In crisis, normal patterns of self-organization fail, resulting in anxiety (negative energy). Being open systems, people can exchange this energy with the environment and create positive energy for taking action...
Synonyms Antonyms Translations
  • Russian: положи́тельный
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun

positive (plural positives)

  1. A thing capable of being affirmed; something real or actual.
  2. A favourable point or characteristic.
  3. Something having a positive value in physics, such as an electric charge.
  4. (grammar) A degree of comparison of adjectives and adverbs.
  5. (grammar) An adjective or adverb in the positive degree.
  6. (photography) A positive image; one that displays true colors and shades, as opposed to a negative.
  7. The positive plate of a voltaic or electrolytic cell.
  8. A positive result of a test.
Translations Translations Translations

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