negative

1 of 3

adjective

neg·​a·​tive ˈne-gə-tiv How to pronounce negative (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
3
a(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
4
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
negatively adverb
negativeness noun
negativity noun

negative

2 of 3

noun

1
a(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
2
a
: something that is the opposite or negation of something else
3
a
: 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

negative

3 of 3

verb

negatived; negativing

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
4
Phrases
in the negative
: with a negative reply : with a reply that means "no"
He answered in the negative.

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Andress and Fergie aren't the only ones to get negative attention for their anthem performances. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 16 July 2024 Murphy said Burberry already conducted an investigation following an earlier complaint from PETA, and found no evidence of unethical treatment of animals, or of negative impact on biodiversity in the brand’s cashmere supply chain. Samantha Conti, WWD, 16 July 2024
Noun
The photographer sold the negatives to Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey, a company that avoided liquor taxes for years by falsely advertising its product as medicinal. Sohini Desai, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 July 2024 Asking Eric: My dad always turns good news into a negative. Eric Thomas, Sun Sentinel, 3 July 2024
Verb
Travelers also need to negative COVID-19 test within one day of flying to return to the United States. Dallas News, 7 Feb. 2022 Regardless, the outcome of this trial might not impact the ex-couple’s career prospects in all that negative a way, Engelmayer predicted. Victoria Bekiempis, Vulture, 26 May 2022 See all Example Sentences for negative 

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near negative

Cite this Entry

“Negative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/negative. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

negative

1 of 3 adjective
neg·​a·​tive ˈneg-ət-iv How to pronounce negative (audio)
1
: marked by denial, prohibition, or refusal
a negative reply
2
: not positive or helpful
a negative attitude
3
a
: less than zero and opposite in sign to a positive number
-2 is a negative number
b
: extending or measured in a direction opposite to one chosen as positive
a negative angle
4
a
: of, being, or relating to electricity of a kind of which the electron is the elementary unit
a negative charge
b
: having more electrons than protons
a negative particle
c
: being the part toward which the electric current flows from the outside circuit
the negative pole of a battery
5
a
: not indicating the presence of a particular germ or condition
a negative TB test
b
: directed or moving away from a source of stimulation
a negative tropism
6
: having the light and dark parts approximately opposite to those of the thing or person photographed
negatively adverb
negativeness noun
negativity noun

negative

2 of 3 noun
1
: a reply that indicates denial or contradiction : refusal
2
: something that is the opposite or negation of something else
3
: an expression (as the word no) of negation or denial
4
: a negative number
5
: the side that argues or votes against something in a debate
6
: a negative photographic image on transparent material used for printing positive pictures
also : the material that carries such an image

negative

3 of 3 verb
negatived; negativing
1
: to refuse to accept or approve
2
: to vote against
3

Medical Definition

negative

1 of 2 adjective
neg·​a·​tive
ˈneg-ət-iv
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
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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
negatively adverb

negative

2 of 2 noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on negative

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