absence

noun ab·sence \ ˈab-sən(t)s \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of absence

1 : a state or condition in which something expected, wanted, or looked for is not present or does not exist : a state or condition in which something is absent
  • an absence [=lack] of detail
  • In the absence of reform [=without reform], progress will be slow.
2 a : a failure to be present at a usual or expected place : the state of being absent
  • an unexplained absence from work
  • His absence was noted by the teacher.
  • The meeting continued in his absence. [=without him being present]
  • They were conspicuous by their absence. [=it was very noticeable that they were not present]
b : the period of time that one is absent
  • She recently returned to work after a long absence.
3 : inattention to present surroundings or occurrences usually used in the phrase absence of mind
  • blamed the error on absence of mind

Examples of absence in a Sentence

  1. Moreover, he has this field pretty much to himself, for while there are many popular writers on science, there are few on engineering, an absence that is all the more remarkable since without engineering our technological world could not function. —Witold RybczynskiNew York Review of Books9 June 2005
  2. The 1990 census revealed that 21 percent of 25-year-olds were living with one or both parents, up from 15 percent in 1970. Some young people are not moving out at all before their mid-20s, but many more are doing an extra rotation through the family home after a temporary or lengthy absence. —Paul McFedriesWord Spy2004
  3. Called the Galápagos of the East, the Seychelles Islands, in the Indian Ocean, have been inhabited for only the past 200 years. In humanity's absence, nature ran wild: Tens of thousands of giant tortoises still lumber along the beaches, and a palm forest shelters … rare black parrots. AudubonSeptember-October 1998
  4. Only five to six inches long and weighing less than two ounces, the elf owl is the smallest bird of prey in the world. Its bobbed tail, white "eyebrows," and absence of ear tufts give this tiny mothlike predator its impish appearance. —Ken LamertonBird Watcher's DigestMay/June 1996
  5. The products showed a remarkable absence of defects.

  6. He had many absences from work.

  7. I expected to see her and was surprised by her absence.

  8. She returned to the company after a long absence.

Recent Examples of absence from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'absence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of absence

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin absentia, noun derivative of absent-, absens 1absent



ABSENCE Defined for Kids

absence

noun ab·sence \ ˈab-səns \

Definition of absence for Students

1 : a failure to be present at a usual or expected place
2 : 2lack 1, want
  • There was an absence of affection between members of the family.


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