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 mindblamed the error on absence of mind

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web In Waddle’s absence, DeVonta Smith became a Heisman Trophy favorite and took on punt return responsibilities. Brett Hudson, USA TODAY, "Jaylen Waddle returning to Alabama practice ahead of title game against Ohio State," 6 Jan. 2021 Whatever the reason for Ma's absence from the public eye, his disappearance marks a significant shift in the status of China's tech tycoon. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "Is Jack Ma missing? The rumors alone represent a chilling new message from Beijing," 5 Jan. 2021 The absence created a yawning hole in the Clippers’ offense. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, "Paul George a late scratch for Clippers game on Tuesday," 5 Jan. 2021 In Garrett’s first absence, Vernon notched three sacks -- one for a safety -- five tackles and one pass defensed in the victory over the Eagles. cleveland, "Browns’ Olivier Vernon ruptures his Achilles tendon and will undergo surgery," 4 Jan. 2021 Luka Doncic’s absence from the Mavericks’ lineup because of a left quadriceps contusion appears likely to last only one game. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "Mavs’ Luka Doncic probable to return from injury vs. Rockets; James Harden also available," 4 Jan. 2021 In light of Jones’ extended absence from the Falcons’ lineup, Ryan was asked during his Wednesday press conference if that had increased his confidence and connection with Ridley. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "‘On fire right now,’ Calvin Ridley chasing NFL receiving crown," 2 Jan. 2021 Washington's absence also means losing an active member on special teams, where he's logged 211 of his 214 snaps this season. Jeff Nowak, NOLA.com, "Who's in/out at RB for Saints in Week 17? What to know about Ty Montgomery, Tony Jones, others," 2 Jan. 2021 But the sudden absence also may have a profound impact on mood and quality of life. New York Times, "Some Covid Survivors Haunted by Loss of Smell and Taste," 2 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for absence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for absence

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absence. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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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.

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Comments on absence

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