negative

adjective
neg·​a·​tive | \ ˈne-gə-tiv How to pronounce negative (audio) \

Definition of negative

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : marked by denial, prohibition, or refusal received a negative answer also : marked by absence, withholding, or removal of something positive the negative motivation of shame — Garrett Hardin
b(1) : denying a predicate (see predicate entry 1 sense 1a) of a subject or a part of a subject "no A is B" is a negative proposition
(2) : denoting the absence or the contradictory of something nontoxic is a negative term
(3) : expressing negation negative particles such as no and not
c : adverse, unfavorable the reviews were mostly negative
2a : lacking positive qualities especially : disagreeable a colorless negative personality
b : marked by features of hostility, withdrawal, or pessimism (see pessimism sense 1) that hinder or oppose constructive treatment or development a negative outlook negative criticism
c : promoting a person or cause by criticizing or attacking the competition ran a negative campaign negative advertising
3a(1) : less than zero and opposite in sign to a positive (see positive entry 1 sense 4e) number that when added to the given number yields zero −2 is a negative number
(2) : having more outgo than income : constituting a loss negative cash flow negative worth
b : extending or generated in a direction opposite to an arbitrarily chosen regular direction or position negative angle
4a : being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the electron is the elementary unit
b : having more electrons than protons a negative ion
c(1) : having lower electric potential (see potential entry 1 sense 2b) and constituting the part toward which the current (see current entry 2 sense 3) flows from the external circuit the negative pole
(2) : being the electron-emitting electrode (see electrode sense 2) of an electron tube
5a : not affirming the presence of a condition, substance, or organism suspected to be present also : having a test result indicating the absence especially of a condition, substance, or organism she is HIV negative
b : directed or moving away from a source of stimulation negative tropism
c : less than the pressure of the atmosphere negative pressure
6 : having the light and dark parts in approximately inverse (see inverse entry 1 sense 1) relation to those of the original photographic subject
7 of a lens : diverging (see diverge sense 1) light rays and forming a virtual inverted image

negative

noun

Definition of negative (Entry 2 of 3)

1a(1) : a reply that indicates the withholding of assent : refusal
(2) archaic : a right of veto
(3) obsolete : an adverse vote : veto
b : a proposition which denies or contradicts another especially : the one of a pair of propositions in which negation is expressed
2a : something that is the opposite or negation of something else
3a : an expression (such as the word no) of negation or denial
b : a negative number
4 : the side that upholds the contradictory proposition in a debate
5 : a negative photographic image on transparent material used for printing positive pictures also : the material that carries such an image
6 : a reverse impression taken from a piece of sculpture or ceramics
7 : a negative result (as of a test) a high rate of false negatives also : a test yielding such a result
in the negative
: with a negative reply : with a reply that means "no" He answered in the negative.

negative

verb
negatived; negativing

Definition of negative (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to refuse assent to
b : to reject by or as if by a vote
2 : to demonstrate the falsity of
3 : to deny the truth, reality, or validity of

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Other Words from negative

Adjective

negatively adverb
negativeness noun
negativity \ ˌne-​gə-​ˈti-​və-​tē How to pronounce negative (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for negative

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of negative in a Sentence

Adjective Car exhaust has a negative effect on the environment. the negative effects of the drug The feedback about the new product was all negative. Noun “No” and “not” are negatives. Can I have the negatives to make copies of the photos? Verb although the rebuttal was very eloquent, the jury negatived it in favor of the prosecution's argument we promptly negatived the idea of having pizza again for dinner, noting that we had already had it for three nights that week
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Also, negative yields in Europe are not a good sign. Simon Moore, Forbes, "Buffett’s Latest Letter Shows Contempt For Bonds, Portfolio Shift From Airlines To Pharma," 27 Feb. 2021 In the five matches since that performance at Iowa, Tommi has had two games with double-digit kills but also had two with negative attacking percentages. Stefan Krajisnik, The Indianapolis Star, "Tommi Stockham wasn’t supposed to be at IU; now she’s cornerstone of volleyball program," 27 Feb. 2021 Lush claims that its Cork Pot (currently available in the U.K.), for storing shampoo bars, is carbon- negative — harvesting the cork removes more carbon dioxide from the air than is emitted in producing the pot. Euny Hong, Allure, "Could Cork Save the Beauty Industry's Carbon Footprint?," 27 Feb. 2021 Every year the Ravens have player seminars to warn about the effects of using social media, but apparently the message isn’t getting through because the negative significantly outweighs the positive. Mike Preston, baltimoresun.com, "Mike Preston: Social media has changed the narrative for NFL players, and it is not good | COMMENTARY," 27 Feb. 2021 Yet even if the economic outlook were as negative as the Democrats claim, Biden’s proposal would do little to improve it. The Editors, National Review, "The Unnecessary Stimulus," 26 Feb. 2021 If the film lacks the negative capability that characterizes Holiday’s own work, that’s unsurprising—and as far as the work goes, her legacy can look after itself just fine. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "The Trials of Billie Holiday," 26 Feb. 2021 Posting negative messages can be a sign of this self-hatred. Washington Post, "Digital self-harm: What to do when kids cyberbully themselves," 26 Feb. 2021 Reactions were so overwhelmingly negative that the academy swiftly backed away from the idea, though without scrapping it entirely. Los Angeles Times, "Yes, this Oscar season has no blockbuster contenders. Why that’s a good thing," 26 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Adjectives describing 2020 tend toward the negative. Kevin Martin Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Copy of Star Tribune photos of the year 2020," 28 Jan. 2021 That simplicity may come in Johnson's fast approach, something the 36-year-old identified as both a positive and a negative in his coming-of-age season a decade ago. Tom Pilcher, CNN, "How Dustin Johnson's speedy approach could help golf's pace of play," 5 Jan. 2021 Paper is typically used with an enlarger—a device found in the darkroom that projects an image through a photographic negative onto a sheet of paper for printing. Popular Science, "Creating this photo of sun trails took eight years and a beer can," 14 Dec. 2020 Countries should consider whether incentives are health positive or health negative. Nandita Murukutla, STAT, "Governments’ alcohol subsidies are harmful to public health," 27 Jan. 2021 But the negative is only part of the story, albeit the most-obvious one. The Pecks | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Despite the gloom, 2020 had plenty of positive experiences at home and in the garden: The Pecks," 31 Dec. 2020 The risks of acting on a false negative could be disastrous, especially as restrictions in many areas are temporarily easing for the holidays, and generations are planning to gather. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, "How to determine the accuracy of a Covid-19 test," 11 Dec. 2020 But any tax hikes would be viewed as a negative by investors because the 2017 tax cuts helped boost corporate profits and stock prices. Matt Egan, CNN, "The Senate races in Georgia will shape the economic recovery," 22 Dec. 2020 If his previous rulings are any indication, Hanen seems likely to answer both questions in the negative. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "Despite court victories, DACA faces biggest legal test ahead of Biden presidency," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Positive antibody test results, which are by no means an absolute guarantee of immunity, will be accepted to enter, as will negative COVID-19 tests taken up to seven days prior to arrival. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Desert off-road festival to go ahead despite violating state guidelines," 17 Jan. 2021 Auburn’s coverage units held Northwestern to negative two return yards, and its return units produced 25 yards on two returns. Giana Han, al, "Grading Auburn’s loss to Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl," 2 Jan. 2021 This makes Pluto a cold place covered with ice, and its surface is between negative 378 to negative 396 degrees Fahrenheit. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Pluto's snow-capped mountains look like they belong on Earth, but they're entirely different," 13 Oct. 2020 Someone who tests negative the day before visiting the White House could be positive upon arrival. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Covid Testing Bait-and-Switch," 5 Oct. 2020 Moody’s Investors Service has lowered its outlook to negative on all municipal bond sectors except for housing-finance agencies and water, sewer and public power. Heather Gillers, WSJ, "Risk Creeps Into Municipal Bond Market, Yet Prices Stay High," 4 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'negative.' 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 negative

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1571, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for negative

Adjective

Middle English negatyff, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French negatif, borrowed from Latin negātīvus "(of legal actions) restraining, (of words) denying," from negātus (past participle of negāre "to say no, deny") + -īvus -ive

Noun

Middle English negatif "negative command, prohibition," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French negative, borrowed from Late Latin negātīva "negative command or statement," from feminine of Latin negātīvus "(of legal actions) restraining, (of words) denying" — more at negative entry 1

Verb

derivative of negative entry 1

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Time Traveler for negative

Time Traveler

The first known use of negative was in the 15th century

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Statistics for negative

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Negative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/negative. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for negative

negative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of negative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: harmful or bad : not wanted
: thinking about the bad qualities of someone or something : thinking that a bad result will happen : not hopeful or optimistic
: expressing dislike or disapproval

negative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of negative (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is harmful or bad
: a word or statement that means "no" or that expresses a denial or refusal
: an image on film that is used to make a printed photograph and that has light areas where the photograph will be dark and dark areas where the photograph will be light also : the film that has such an image

negative

adjective
neg·​a·​tive | \ ˈne-gə-tiv How to pronounce negative (audio) \

Kids Definition of negative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : emphasizing the bad side of a person, situation, or thing a negative attitude Whenever I ask her how she's doing, her reply is negative.
2 : not positive His test results came back negative.
3 : less than zero and shown by a minus sign −2 is a negative number.
4 : being the part toward which the electric current flows from the outside circuit the negative pole of a storage battery
5 : of, being, or relating to electricity of which the electron is the unit and which is produced in a hard rubber rod that has been rubbed with wool a negative charge
6 : having more electrons than protons a negative particle

Other Words from negative

negatively adverb
negativity \ ˌne-​gə-​ˈti-​və-​tē \ noun

negative

noun

Kids Definition of negative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a part of something which is harmful or bad Consider the negatives of quitting school.
2 : an expression (as the word no) that denies or says the opposite
3 : the side that argues or votes against something
4 : a photographic image on film from which a final picture is made

negative

adjective
neg·​a·​tive | \ ˈneg-ət-iv \

Medical Definition of negative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : marked by denial, prohibition, or refusal received a negative answer
2 : marked by features (as hostility, withdrawal, or pessimism) that hinder or oppose constructive treatment or development a negative outlook
3a : being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the electron is the elementary unit
b : having more electrons than protons negative ions
c(1) : having lower electrical potential and constituting the part toward which the current flows from the external circuit the negative pole
(2) : being the electron-emitting electrode of an electron tube
4a : not affirming the presence of a condition, substance, or organism suspected to be present also : having a test result indicating the absence especially of a condition, substance, or organism she is HIV negative
b : directed or moving away from a source of stimulation negative tropism
5 : having the light and dark parts in approximately inverse relation to those of the original photographic subject

Other Words from negative

negatively adverb

negative

noun

Medical Definition of negative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a negative photographic image on transparent material used for printing positive pictures also : the material that carries such an image
2 : a negative result (as of a test) also : a test yielding such a result

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