re·​la·​tion | \ ri-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce relation (audio) \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for relation



  • nonintercourse
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Examples of relation in a Sentence

The incident led to tense international relations.
Recent Examples on the Web All these lives overlap, both physically and in their relation to payment and profit, networks of exploitation, systems that Mozley makes plain. Sophie Haigney, Los Angeles Times, "Review: A fight for home and history in a novel of gentrifying London," 21 Apr. 2021 By analyzing the ancient genomes from the Bacho Kiro remains, researchers were able to determine their relation to humans today, as well as the complexity of populations as humans migrated from Africa to Eurasia thousands of years ago. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Interactions between early modern humans and Neanderthals were a lot more common than we thought," 14 Apr. 2021 Here, Little Marvin talks to us about the premise of his new series and its relation to the American Dream for Black people. Essence, "'Them: Covenant' Creator Little Marvin Talks Dismantling The 'American Dream'," 9 Apr. 2021 But the project proceeded, in part because the designers emphasized its relation to the community. Washington Post, "Washington is a city of great bridges and terrible bridges. These are their stories.," 1 Apr. 2021 To explore its relation to COVID-19, researchers compared blood samples from 14 children with MIS-C against those of 16 children and more than 100 adults hospitalized for acute COVID-19. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "Studies chase clues to help kids with COVID-19–linked immune syndrome," 18 Mar. 2021 Politics, warfare, the relation between states and—a surprise?—men were its subjects, and Thucydides’ grave, stately prose resounded for centuries. James M. Banner Jr., WSJ, "Five Best: Books on Revisionist History," 2 Apr. 2021 Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other? Nick Romano,, "Nike blocks sales of Lil Nas X's 'Satan Shoes' with temporary restraining order," 1 Apr. 2021 Saúl González, no relation, and a mutual friend were scheduled to join the judge. Elaine Ayala,, "Ayala: For San Antonio judge, getting close to the inauguration is statement enough to the insurrectionists," 16 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for relation

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for relation

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Relation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for relation



English Language Learners Definition of relation

: 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 How to pronounce relation (audio) \

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 How to pronounce relation (audio) \

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 How to pronounce relation (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on relation

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