1 of 2


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


2 of 2


: 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

Did you know?

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 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."

Examples of absurd in a Sentence

Adjective 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 & Publisher, 14 July 2003
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 Taylor, Sports Illustrated, 30 July 2001
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 Wilson, New York Times Book Review, 24 Sept. 2000
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-Gray, Parenting, December/January 1996
The charges against him are obviously absurd. absurd claims of having been abducted by UFO's See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Even after Friday’s selloff, shares of Super Micro are up an absurd 195% year-to-date, the third-best rally of any of the U.S.’ 3,000 largest stocks, and 770% over the last 12 months, the best gain of any major American stock. Derek Saul, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Yes, that’s an absurd deal that makes absolutely no financial sense. Jason Del Rey, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 The notion of firing either Shanahan or Harbaugh is absurd. Mike Preston, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024 Here are some absurd pizza facts, helpful tips and strong opinions to fuel your munching: Italy divided over new pineapple pizza 2024 might be the year that pineapple pizza cracks Italy, thanks to Gino Sorbillo. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 9 Feb. 2024 The pair made oddball sketches filmed on their MacBook, featuring them in absurd scenarios like dueling students at an all-girls Catholic school or desperate friends channeling Erin Brockovich and cosplaying in court. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 6 Feb. 2024 Needless to say, the argument is absurd and reflects the combination of lunacy and cynicism of those promoting it. Nr Editors, National Review, 2 Feb. 2024 Cybersecurity professionals quickly started to point out that the story was unsupported by any evidence—and was somewhat absurd on its face. Andy Greenberg Dhruv Mehrotra, WIRED, 10 Feb. 2024 This is an absurd moment to embark on a U.S. war with Tehran. Trudy Rubin, Twin Cities, 4 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'absurd.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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 surd entry 1


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

First Known Use


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1946, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of absurd was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near absurd

Cite this Entry

“Absurd.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absurd. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: completely unreasonable or untrue : ridiculous
absurdly adverb
absurdness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on absurd

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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