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."

Example Sentences

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
Patrick also noted the concept of manufacturing ballots is absurd because of the logistics involved. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 8 Nov. 2022 Giving any branch of government the ability to change the results of any election is absurd. Sam Kmack, The Arizona Republic, 15 Oct. 2022 However, any claim that Midway planned to manufacture a limited quantity of MKII machines would be absurd. David L. Craddock, Ars Technica, 8 Oct. 2022 Maroon 5, that upcoming Las Vegas residency of yours is absurd. Los Angeles Times, 27 Sep. 2022 For regular humans without access to a monogrammed private jet, standing in absurd lines or setting up Resy alerts that notify them when restaurant reservations open is common practice in these diner-eat-diner times. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 19 Sep. 2022 The new Hand of the King, Lyonel Strong, thinks this is absurd. Omar L. Gallaga, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2022 The myth that your partner should know every pleasurable zone on your body without any direction or input from you is absurd. Ashley Cobb, Essence, 16 Sep. 2022 Shifting back to a game as allegations of a heinous crime swirl, while barely tapping the brakes, is absurd. Bryce Millercolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

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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