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

Though Russia is not comfortable with the extent of Iran's influence in Syria, Mr Putin is not ready to torpedo relations with Tehran. The Economist, "Vladimir Putin’s hopes for his long-awaited meeting with Donald Trump," 14 July 2018 Is there any reason to mandate tariffs immediately without major efforts to negotiate fair and equitable trade relations with our best customers and our allies? Phillip Molnar,, "Can the U.S. economy withstand a trade war?," 13 July 2018 To be fair, Trump has said some sensible things about improved relations with Russia being good for everyone. Andrew Malcolm,, "Will Trump stand up to Putin or fall for him?," 12 July 2018 But some observers interpreted it as a gesture of defiance to commentators condemning him for the decision to perform in Russia despite the country's extremely strained relations with the West and, especially, the United Kingdom. Vladimir Kozlov, The Hollywood Reporter, "World Cup: Will Smith to Perform at Closing Ceremony," 12 July 2018 But Trump's relations with Russia have been complicated by his domestic politics. Jonathan Allen /, NBC News, "Trump's European trip: Trade wars, Brexit chaos — and a Russia quandary," 10 July 2018 Airport reports regularly state that international travel is growing but is depressed by U.S. political relations with Mexico and the value of the Mexican peso. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio aviation director talks travel ban, airport construction and flying the F-22," 9 July 2018 One of the issues is relations with the United States as a partner in the fight against global terrorism and finding a way to end the 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan. Abdul Salam, USA TODAY, "A cricket star is the front-runner to become Pakistan's next prime minister," 9 July 2018 The names of these individuals were redacted, but email addresses show eight had relations with the Arrigo Automotive Group, a car dealership in the West Palm Beach area. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Members of Trump's Exclusive Clubs May Have Toured Air Force One," 9 July 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

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for relation

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

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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