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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from negative

Adjective

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for negative

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Only 21% of Americans gave the pharmaceutical sector positive ratings in a 2019 Gallup survey, while 58% gave it negative ratings. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Could a coronavirus vaccine rehab the pharmaceutical industry's reputation despite drug price increases?," 9 July 2020 Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, knows all too well what the negative impacts of returning to the classroom could be. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Florida teachers say the state's decision to reopen schools could be deadly," 8 July 2020 Peace Camp, now in its 23rd year, works to curb some of that violence by encouraging children and teens to avoid negative influences in their everyday lives. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "Annual Peace in the Hood camp puts focus on anti-violence after brutal Fourth of July weekend in Cleveland," 8 July 2020 More than 1,200 people signed up in just two weeks, but that slowed to a trickle after some negative reports. Marilynn Marchione, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Desperation science’ is actually slowing the hunt for COVID-19 drug treatments," 8 July 2020 The year began with a recovery that belied every negative cliché about the Trump tax cuts and regulatory reform. Phil Gramm And Mike Solon, WSJ, "Voters’ Choice: Growth or Stagnation," 8 July 2020 There are secondhand anecdotes going around the baseball world of players needing three-plus weeks to test negative despite having mild or asymptomatic cases. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Diamondbacks play waiting game after Kole Calhoun’s positive COVID-19 test," 8 July 2020 When each of the four tests came back negative, he was allowed to return to practice with his teammates, who had taken similar measures. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "'Interesting, to say the least': Peyton Siva's peek at basketball in a coronavirus bubble," 7 July 2020 The negative impacts include lower grades and graduation rates. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "The NFL’s apparent new wokeness might be performative, but it still matters," 7 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Those who test negative must spend 14 days in quarantine -- either in a government facility or at home with a monitoring wristband -- regularly checking themselves for any sign of the virus and reporting results back to relevant authorities. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Authorities in Hong Kong warn of potential 'exponential growth' in coronavirus cases just weeks after loosening restrictions," 8 July 2020 One is someone sneaks out or sneaks somebody in, or two -- because not all positive testing is perfect -- if somebody gives us a false negative. Dallas News, "Mavs owner Mark Cuban talks bubble plan, why NBA should consider a permanent calendar change," 28 June 2020 But things can take a turn toward the negative on July 15, as the Sun opposes Pluto. Elizabeth Gulino, refinery29.com, "Cancer Season Is Here, And Things Are About To Get Emotional," 22 June 2020 Lost even to the black film canon for thirty years, the negative of Cane River was discovered at the archives of New York City’s DuArt Film and Video only in 2013. Tiana Reid, The New York Review of Books, "Searching for Freedom in ‘Cane River’ and the Black Outdoors," 20 June 2020 Others were sent home as a safety measure, but returned to work after testing negative, said City Administrator Kathie Reyer. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "3 Woodlands firefighters test positive for COVID-19," 26 June 2020 Several other studies corroborate that the later a specimen is collected after symptoms begin, the higher the chance of a false negative. Annie Vainshtein, SFChronicle.com, "Why some people get coronavirus symptoms, but still test negative," 16 June 2020 Getting a test too early could result in a false negative. NBC News, "Soccer with fans back in Vietnam after virus shutdown," 6 June 2020 The main concerns are false negatives, which are tests incorrectly indicating patients do not have COVID-19. USA TODAY, "Milk giveaway, ‘Pass the pork,’ famous rodeo foiled: News from around our 50 states," 28 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about negative

Time Traveler for negative

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for negative

Last Updated

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Negative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/negative. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for negative

negative

adjective
How to pronounce negative (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on negative

What made you want to look up negative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!