Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective equiv·a·lent \-lənt\

Simple Definition of equivalent

  • : having the same value, use, meaning, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of equivalent

  1. 1 :  equal in force, amount, or value; also :  equal in area or volume but not superposable <a square equivalent to a triangle>

  2. 2 a :  like in signification or import b :  having logical equivalence <equivalent statements>

  3. 3 :  corresponding or virtually identical especially in effect or function

  4. 4 obsolete :  equal in might or authority

  5. 5 :  having the same chemical combining capacity <equivalent quantities of two elements>

  6. 6 a :  having the same solution set <equivalent equations> b :  capable of being placed in one-to-one correspondence <equivalent sets> c :  related by an equivalence relation





Examples of equivalent in a sentence

  1. Those less-known companies manufacture equivalent products at cheaper prices.

  2. I haven't taken English 202, but I took an equivalent course at another university.

  3. an equivalent amount of money

Did You Know?

Modern democracies have institutions and offices that are roughly equivalent to those found in others: the president of the United States has his British equivalent in the prime minister, for instance, and the U.S. Congress finds its equivalent in the British Parliament. The heavily armored knight on his great armored horse has been called the Middle Ages' equivalent of the army tank. In none of these examples are the two things identical to each other; they're simply very similar in their effect or purpose or nature, which is what equivalence usually implies.

Origin and Etymology of equivalent

Middle English, from Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin aequivalent-, aequivalens, present participle of aequivalēre to have equal power, from Latin aequi- + valēre to be strong — more at wield

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of equivalent

same, selfsame, very, identical, equivalent, equal mean not different or not differing from one another. same may imply and selfsame always implies that the things under consideration are one thing and not two or more things <took the same route> <derived from the selfsame source>. very, like selfsame, may imply identity, or, like same, may imply likeness in kind <the very point I was trying to make>. identical may imply selfsameness or suggest absolute agreement in all details <identical results>. equivalent implies amounting to the same thing in worth or significance <two houses equivalent in market value>. equal implies being identical in value, magnitude, or some specified quality <equal shares in the business>.

Other Mathematics and Statistics Terms

EQUIVALENT Defined for Kids



adjective equiv·a·lent \i-ˈkwi-və-lənt\

Definition of equivalent for Students

  1. :  alike or equal in number, value, or meaning



noun equiv·a·lent

Definition of equivalent for Students

  1. :  something like or equal to something else in number, value, or meaning <“And I figure that dog is the equivalent of a person and a half.” — Judy Blume, Sheila the Great>

Medical Dictionary



adjective equiv·a·lent \-lənt\

Medical Definition of equivalent

  1. 1:  corresponding or virtually identical especially in effect or function <drugs that are therapeutically equivalent>

  2. 2:  having the same chemical combining capacity <equivalent quantities of two elements>



noun equiv·a·lent

Medical Definition of equivalent

  1. 1a:  the relative weight of an element that has the same combining capacity as a given weight of another element :  the atomic weight divided by the valenceb:  the relative weight of a radical or compound that combines with a given weight of an element, radical, or compound; especially :  the weight of a compound that reacts with one equivalent of a given chemical element

  2. 2:  a psychopathological symptom replacing the usual one in a given disorder <a twilight state may be an epileptic equivalent>

Law Dictionary


noun eq·uiv·a·lent

Legal Definition of equivalent

  1. :  something that performs substantially the same function as another thing in substantially the same way — compare aggregation, combination, invention

Additional Notes on equivalent

Under patent law, a patentee may bring a claim for infringement against the inventor of an equivalent.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up equivalent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a very small amount

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is the correct spelling?

accomodate acommodate accommodate acommadate
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.