ab·​sence | \ ˈab-sən(t)s How to pronounce absence (audio) \

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

Synonyms for absence


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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Jones also described the lack of a strong support network among the Black associate attorneys in the absence of a strong senior mentor. Duane Cranston, Fortune, 9 May 2022 Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado have carried the offense in the absence of Fernando Tatis Jr. 6. Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY, 9 May 2022 Before the sale, Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s chief executive, reveled in the absence of guarantees, given the risky quality of flying without a net. New York Times, 9 May 2022 In the absence of a state law, the Austin Independent School District school board passed a policy in 2016 that prohibits taking away recess as a punishment. Jackie Mader, NBC News, 7 May 2022 The $96 million represented the amount of the fine — 30% of the $320-million sale price — for which Anaheim would have been liable, in the absence of the settlement with the state. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 Celentano guided the club to two shutouts over the last four matches in the absence of Kann. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 6 May 2022 While foul trouble has had an impact, the primary determinant has been the opposition going smaller, particularly with the 76ers opening this series in the absence of ailing center Joel Embiid. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 6 May 2022 Endosomal entry is very likely required in the absence of efficient furin cleavage. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 6 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for absence

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near absence



absence of blade

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Statistics for absence

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Absence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absence. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for absence


ab·​sence | \ ˈab-səns How to pronounce absence (audio) \

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on absence

Nglish: Translation of absence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of absence for Arabic Speakers


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