re·la·tion | \ri-ˈlā-shən \

Definition of relation 

1 : the act of telling or recounting : account

2 : an aspect or quality (such as resemblance) that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together or as being of the same kind the relation of time and space specifically : a property (such as one expressed by is equal to, is less than, or is the brother of) that holds between an ordered pair of objects

3 : the referring by a legal fiction of an act to a prior date as the time of its taking effect usually used with back

4a(1) : a person connected by consanguinity or affinity : relative

(2) : a person legally entitled to a share of the property of an intestate

b : relationship by consanguinity or affinity : kinship

5 : reference, respect in relation to

6 : the attitude or stance which two or more persons or groups assume toward one another race relations

7a : the state of being mutually or reciprocally interested (as in social or commercial matters)

b relations plural

(1) : dealings, intercourse foreign relations

(2) : sexual intercourse

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Examples of relation in a Sentence

The incident led to tense international relations. sexual relations outside of marriage

Recent Examples on the Web

Trump speaks fondly of Putin and a desire for better relations with Moscow, but the rest of his executive branch remains highly critical and deeply suspicious of the Russian president and the Kremlin’s intentions. Matthew Lee,, "Trump wish for warm Putin ties highlights policy disconnect," 14 July 2018 On the cusp of President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, released indictments with profound implications for relations between the two countries. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "New indictments complicate the Trump-Russia relationship.," 13 July 2018 Churchill spent three weeks at the White House, cementing his close ties with Roosevelt and forming the basis for future relations between the U.S. and Great Britain. Washington Post, "Trump attending dinner at birthplace of Winston Churchill," 12 July 2018 In that meeting, May had appeared to win over her fractious cabinet and secure approval for her plan, which was to be published as soon as this week in a lengthy White Paper that would stake out Britain's vision for future relations with Europe. William Booth And Karla Adam,, "British PM Theresa May's government thrown into turmoil with surprise resignation of 'Brexit minister'," 9 July 2018 Britain’s government plunged into another melodrama Monday as Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned over Theresa May’s proposal for future trading relations with the European Union. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Moment of Truth for Brexit," 9 July 2018 The election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Sunday marked a historic moment for the Mexican left—and a potential shift for U.S.-Mexico relations. Time, "Mexico's New President AMLO and Donald Trump Have Promised Mutual 'Respect.' How Long Can That Last?," 3 July 2018 At least from Moscow's viewpoint, it's been a disastrous year and a half for Russian-American relations. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Upcoming Trump-Putin summit gives Russians hope for US thaw," 3 July 2018 Pablo Paez, the company’s executive vice president for corporate relations, declined to say whether GEO would pursue Homeland Security’s recent request related to the 15,000 beds. Mark Collette, Joshua Fechter And Bill Lambrecht, San Antonio Express-News, "Companies earn billions to shelter immigrant children," 29 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for relation

Middle English relacion, from Anglo-French, from Latin relation-, relatio, from referre (past participle relatus) to carry back

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Statistics for relation

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for relation

The first known use of relation was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for relation



English Language Learners Definition of relation

relations : the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other

: the way in which two or more people or things are connected

: a person who is a member of your family


re·la·tion | \ri-ˈlā-shən \

Kids Definition of relation

1 : connection sense 2, relationship Doctors studied the relation between sleep and health.

2 : a related person : relative

3 : reference sense 2, respect He'll speak in relation to this matter.

4 relations plural : the interaction between two or more people, groups, or countries foreign relations


re·la·tion | \ri-ˈlā-shən \

Medical Definition of relation 

1 : an aspect or quality (as resemblance or causality) that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together, as being of the same kind, or as being logically connected the strong relation between genotype and phenotype— Anne M. Glazier et al

2 : the attitude or stance which two or more persons or groups assume toward one another race relations

3a : the state of being mutually or reciprocally interested (as in social matters)

b relations plural : sexual intercourse testified that relations had occurredNewsweek

Other Words from relation

relational \-əl \ adjective

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Comments on relation

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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