positive

1 of 2

adjective

pos·​i·​tive ˈpä-zə-tiv How to pronounce positive (audio)
ˈpäz-tiv
1
a
: formally laid down or imposed : prescribed
positive laws
b
: expressed clearly or peremptorily
her answer was a positive no
c
: fully assured : confident
positive it was her book
2
a
: of, relating to, or constituting the degree of comparison that is expressed in English by the unmodified and uninflected form of an adjective or adverb and denotes no increase or diminution
b(1)
: independent of changing circumstances : unconditioned
an insurance policy with positive coverage
(2)
: relating to or constituting a motion or device that is definite, unyielding, constant, or certain in its action
a positive system of levers
c(1)
: incontestable
positive proof
(2)
: unqualified
a positive disgrace
3
a
: not fictitious : real
positive social tensions
b
: active and effective in social or economic function rather than merely maintaining peace and order
a positive government
4
a
: indicating, relating to, or characterized by affirmation, addition, inclusion, or presence rather than negation, withholding, or absence
took the positive approach and struck a new deal rather than canceling the contract
b
: having rendition of light and shade similar in tone to the tones of the original subject
a positive photographic image
c
: contributing toward or characterized by increase or progression
take some positive action
positive cash flow
d
: directed or moving toward a source of stimulation
a positive taxis
e
: real and numerically greater than zero
+2 is a positive integer
5
a(1)
: being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the proton is the elementary unit and which predominates in a glass body after being rubbed with silk
(2)
: having more protons than electrons
a positive ion
b(1)
: having higher electric potential and constituting the part from which the current flows to the external circuit
the positive terminal of a discharging storage battery
(2)
: being an electron-collecting electrode of an electron tube
6
a
: marked by or indicating acceptance, approval, or affirmation
received a positive response
b
: affirming the presence especially of a condition, substance, or organism suspected to be present
a positive test for blood
also : having a test result indicating the presence especially of a condition, substance, or organism
HIV positive
7
of a lens : converging light rays and forming a real inverted image
8
a
: having a good effect : favorable
a positive role model
b
: marked by optimism
the positive point of view
positively
ˈpä-zə-tiv-lē How to pronounce positive (audio)
 for emphasis often  ˌpä-zə-ˈtiv-
adverb
positiveness
ˈpä-zə-tiv-nəs How to pronounce positive (audio)
ˈpäz-tiv-
noun

positive

2 of 2

noun

: something positive: such as
a(1)
: the positive degree of comparison in a language
(2)
: a positive form of an adjective or adverb
b
: something of which an affirmation can be made : reality
c
: a positive photograph or a print from a negative
d
: a positive result (as of a test)
also : a test yielding such a result

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Choose the Right Synonym for positive

sure, certain, positive, cocksure mean having no doubt or uncertainty.

sure usually stresses the subjective or intuitive feeling of assurance.

felt sure that I had forgotten something

certain may apply to a basing of a conclusion or conviction on definite grounds or indubitable evidence.

police are certain about the cause of the fire

positive intensifies sureness or certainty and may imply opinionated conviction or forceful expression of it.

I'm positive that's the person I saw

cocksure implies presumptuous or careless positiveness.

you're always so cocksure about everything

Example Sentences

Adjective The book had a positive influence on me. He has been a positive role model for his brother. Nothing positive came out of that experience. What are some of the positive things about your job? The low unemployment rate is a positive sign for the economy. The company took positive steps to create a safer workplace. You've got to have a positive attitude to do well in life. You should try to be more positive about the whole situation. On the positive side, you will be making more money. To end on a positive note, we are seeing an increase in sales this month. Noun The positives of living in the city include access to public transportation and many interesting restaurants. The test showed a positive. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
To calculate the probability of actually observing a particle in a certain state, physicists square the amplitude, which gets rid of the imaginary and negative bits and produces a positive probability. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, 26 Sep. 2022 Fox News Digital said the incident has shaken the entire area, and had only positive things to say about Ellingson. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 26 Sep. 2022 In the quarter ending June 30, Uber reported positive cash flow for the first time ever. David Ingram, NBC News, 26 Sep. 2022 Despite the challenges facing local restaurant owners, plenty of people consider these new financial opportunities a net positive for the hospitality community in the Miami area. Adam Reiner, Bon Appétit, 26 Sep. 2022 Focusing on the positive allowed the Colts offense to move passed the early struggles and convert in the most crucial moments of the game. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, 26 Sep. 2022 Organizers had made clear that Climate Week NYC was supposed to be a positive event. Time, 26 Sep. 2022 As a woman who recently gave birth and has talked to others who have seen these episodes, my feedback is less than positive. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 26 Sep. 2022 After his team dropped to 1-2, however, Brown wasn’t feeling so positive. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 26 Sep. 2022
Noun
He was urged to take a test and wound up popping a positive. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 26 May 2022 Russia may be run by a despot whose needless military adventurism will result in the death of thousands of Ukranians, but Chelsea’s recent run of success is a net positive. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 25 Feb. 2022 The only substantial positive is turnover numbers have stayed down. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 15 Feb. 2022 Dawson described the past few weeks as something of an emotional pendulum, as one test would come back negative, then the next positive. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 8 Feb. 2022 Health officials in Hong Kong are now investigating this as a possible case of animal-to-human transmission because two more human infections, one confirmed and one preliminary positive, were linked to the pet store. Washington Post, 18 Jan. 2022 Ten of the brochures never mention that a false positive can happen. New York Times, 1 Jan. 2022 Players undergo more testing after an initial positive. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, 18 Nov. 2021 Honerkamp also noted that focusing on the positive can have powerful benefits. SELF, 5 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'positive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin positivus, from positus, past participle of ponere

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of positive was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near positive

Cite this Entry

“Positive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/positive. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

positive 1 of 2

adjective

pos·​i·​tive ˈpä-zə-tiv How to pronounce positive (audio)
1
: fully confident : certain
I'm positive that I will win.
2
: having a real or beneficial effect or result
They took positive action.
I had a positive experience.
3
: beyond doubt : unquestionable
positive proof
4
: showing acceptance or approval
a positive response
5
: thinking of good qualities or possibilities : optimistic
a positive attitude
6
: being greater than zero and often shown by a plus sign
2 or +2 is a positive number.
7
: being or relating to electricity of a kind that is produced in a glass rod rubbed with silk
a positive charge
8
: having more protons than electrons
a positive particle
9
: being the part from which the electric current flows to the external circuit
the positive pole of a storage battery
10
: showing the presence of what is looked for or suspected to be present
The test for strep throat was positive.
11
: relating to or having the form of an adjective or adverb that shows no degree of comparison
positively adverb

positive

2 of 2

noun

1
: a good or useful feature or quality
There are many positives of living in the country.
2
: the degree or a form of an adjective or adverb that shows no comparison

Medical Definition

positive 1 of 2

adjective

pos·​i·​tive ˈpäz-ət-iv, ˈpäz-tiv How to pronounce positive (audio)
1
: directed or moving toward a source of stimulation
a positive taxis
2
: having rendition of light and shade similar in tone to the tones of the original
a positive photographic image
3
a(1)
: being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the proton is the elementary unit and which predominates in a glass body after being rubbed with silk
(2)
: having more protons than electrons
a positive ion
b(1)
: having higher electrical potential and constituting the part from which the current flows to the external circuit
the positive terminal of a discharging storage battery
(2)
: being an electron-collecting electrode of an electron tube
4
a
: marked by or indicating acceptance, approval, or affirmation
b
: affirming the presence of that sought or suspected to be present
a positive test for blood
5
of a lens : converging light rays and forming a real inverted image

positive

2 of 2

noun

1
: a positive photograph or a print from a negative
2
: a positive result (as of a test)
also : a test yielding such a result

More from Merriam-Webster on positive

Last Updated: 28 Sep 2022

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