absence

noun
ab·sence | \ˈab-sən(t)s \

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.

2a : 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for absence

Synonyms

dearth, lack, want

Antonyms

presence

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Examples of absence in a Sentence

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 Rybczynski, New York Review of Books, 9 June 2005 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 McFedries, Word Spy, 2004 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. Audubon, September-October 1998 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 Lamerton, Bird Watcher's Digest, May/June 1996 The products showed a remarkable absence of defects. He had many absences from work. I expected to see her and was surprised by her absence. She returned to the company after a long absence.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The first half of Orlando City’s season was marred by absences. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City sees reasons roller-coaster season can be fixed," 7 July 2018 Its richest resident, George Kaiser, has pledged much of his fortune to building a public-private safety net for young families in a state that is largely notable for its absence. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "For three families, Tulsa experiment offers chance to grasp American dream," 3 July 2018 The New York Times wrote an editorial razing the 56-year-old politician for his absence. Yohana Desta, HWD, "The Establishment Didn’t Think Ocasio-Cortez Could Win—But This Documentary Filmmaker Did," 29 June 2018 In these, thousands of genomes are searched in order to identify places where differences between people’s DNA seem associated with the presence or absence of particular diseases or symptoms. The Economist, "A big collaboration is trying to understand diseases of the psyche," 28 June 2018 They'd been given 1-1 odds on a bookmaking site, TIME reported in 2013, but in hindsight the absence makes more sense. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How Prince William and Kate Middleton Picked Prince Louis's Godparents," 9 July 2018 Maybe absence will make the collective nomenclature grow fonder. Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown, "Destined to be dowdy forever? The difficulty of being named 'Donna' in 2018," 7 July 2018 The research continues on da Vinci’s presence, or absence, in Italian artworks of the time, and probably will continue forever, Kanter says. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Yale Art Gallery Unravels Leonardo Da Vinci Mysteries," 3 July 2018 Between the two, between the presence and the absence, which is really what engages the viewer’s imagination, the photograph bears witness. The Economist, "David Goldblatt died on June 25th," 28 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of absence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for absence

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

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Statistics for absence

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for absence

The first known use of absence was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for absence

absence

noun
ab·sence | \ˈab-səns \

Kids Definition of absence

1 : a failure to be present at a usual or expected place

2 : lack entry 2 sense 1, want There was an absence of affection between members of the family.

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More from Merriam-Webster on absence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for absence

Spanish Central: Translation of absence

Nglish: Translation of absence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of absence for Arabic Speakers

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