ab·surd | \əb-ˈsərd, -ˈzərd \

Definition of absurd 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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 absurd entry 2) or with absurdism absurd theater


ab·surd | \əb-ˈsərd, -ˈzərd\

Definition of absurd (Entry 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

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Other Words from absurd


absurdly adverb
absurdness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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.

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."

Examples of absurd in a Sentence


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The suggestion this will only increase traffic [slightly] is absurd. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "Developer says 5-story building would 'rejuvenate, enrich' Lake and Lathrop area; River Forest officials, residents have questions," 29 June 2018 The idea that there could be effective oversight of such an invasive program was dismissed as absurd. Renee Diresta, WIRED, "How the Tech Giants Created What Darpa Couldn’t," 29 May 2018 The idea of The Rock as a #sneakerinfluencer / hype beast is very much equal parts the 2018 formula: one part celebrity, one part absurd, one part of unthinkable ten years ago, combine, stir, pour over ice. Liz Raiss, GQ, "Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Can Sell The People Anything—Even Sneakers," 30 June 2018 After a quarter-century the franchise may be terminally long in the teeth; much of this fifth iteration is absurd, both intentionally and un. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Review: Reasonably Edible and Credible," 20 June 2018 The series' absurd, hilarious and undeniably catchy musical excursions number among its best moments. Aly Semigran, Billboard, "The 10 Best Musical Moments From 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'," 30 May 2018 That sounds absurd to some people, but life is more so about putting yourself in a position to succeed than actually expecting to succeed in the face of conspiring forces. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "Whatever Happens Next, Chris Paul Made the Right Decision to Join Rockets," 24 May 2018 But through it all, human desire is made sumptuously absurd, especially by Carrie Compere as Sofia and J. Daughtry as Harpo, lovers who writhe in pain at the thought of keeping their hands off each other. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "A rainbow of shades in the voices of SHN’s ‘The Color Purple’," 3 May 2018 Or just people who easily believe in absurd things? Film Crit Hulk, The Verge, "Don’t feed the trolls, and other hideous lies," 12 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of absurd


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1946, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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 surd entry 1


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

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Phrases Related to absurd

the absurd

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for absurd

The first known use of absurd was in 1530

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More Definitions for absurd


ab·surd | \əb-ˈsərd, -ˈzərd\

Kids Definition of absurd

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

Other Words from absurd

absurdly adverb

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Comments on absurd

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