adjective ab·surd \ əb-ˈsərd , -ˈzərd \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

Definition of absurd

1 : ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous
  • an absurd argument
: extremely silly or ridiculous
  • absurd humor
2 : having no rational or orderly relationship to human life : meaningless
  • an absurd universe
; also : lacking order or value
  • an absurd existence
3 : dealing with the absurd (see 2absurd) or with absurdism
  • absurd theater





Examples of absurd in a Sentence

  1. In an era when federal judges issue rulings that in their impact often rival the lawmaking of any legislature in the land, it is increasingly absurd that their proceedings should remain off-limits to the same wider public scrutiny that news cameras have brought to courts in 48 states. Editor & Publisher14 July 2003
  2. By the time Showalter was fired one day after the end of last season, the stories of how he carried his attention to detail to absurd lengths—including his insistence that the A on the players' socks be completely visible—had been well circulated. —Phil TaylorSports Illustrated30 July 2001
  3. This criticism, patently absurd to anyone who has read even a handful of Updike's more than 40 books, nevertheless has been made so often that it is worth Pritchard's long rebuttal. —Jonathan WilsonNew York Times Book Review24 Sept. 2000
  4. Yet from time to time, virtually every parent falls back on threats, often absurd ones that leave Mom and Dad feeling foolish and the problem unresolved. —Dorothy Foltz-GrayParentingDecember/January 1996
  5. The charges against him are obviously absurd.

  6. absurd claims of having been abducted by UFO's

Recent Examples of absurd from the Web

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

Making Sense of absurd

Absurd contains the rarer related adjective surd, which, like absurd, derives from the Latin surdus ("deaf, silent, stupid").

Surd can mean "lacking sense or irrational," much like absurd:

While the grandparents might scratch their heads at the Star Wars references, the actors and perhaps some younger parents likely delighted in manic, jumbled and surd structure of the play.
–Patrick Clement, Kiowa County Signal (Greensburg, Kansas), 23 Jan. 2013

Absurd, however, stresses a lack of logical sense or harmonious agreement, of parts (such as a premise and a conclusion) not fitting together. In philosophy, it describes the problem of trying to distill meaning from one's experiences. In A Discourse on Novelty and Creation (1975), Carl R. Hausman writes, "There is an incongruity, an inconsistency, a conflict with a context that appears as lawful, orderly experience. As [Albert] Camus points out, absurdity 'springs from a comparison,' a comparison between two aspects of reality which seem to be out of harmony."

Origin and Etymology of absurd

borrowed from Middle French absurde, going back to Old French absorde, borrowed from Latin absurdus "out of tune, uncouth, inappropriate, ridiculous," from ab- ab- + surdus "unhearing, deaf, muffled, dull" — more at 1surd



noun ab·surd \ əb-ˈsərd , -ˈzərd \

Definition of absurd

: the state or condition in which human beings exist in an irrational and meaningless universe and in which human life has no ultimate meaning usually used with the
  • the theater of the absurd

Origin and Etymology of absurd

borrowed from French (l')absurde, derivative of absurde 1absurd

ABSURD Defined for Kids


adjective ab·surd \ əb-ˈsərd , -ˈzərd \

Definition of absurd for Students

: completely foolish, unreasonable, or untrue : ridiculous
  • His claims are absurd.



Synonym Discussion of absurd

absurd, foolish, and silly mean not showing good sense. absurd is used when something is not in keeping with common sense, good reasoning, or accepted ideas.
    • The notion that horses can talk is absurd.
foolish is used when something is not thought of by others as wise or sensible.
    • You would be foolish to invest your money in that.
silly is used when something makes no sense and has no purpose.
    • They had a silly argument over who ate the most.

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a simultaneous discharge of guns

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