relative

noun
rel·​a·​tive | \ ˈre-lə-tiv How to pronounce relative (audio) \

Definition of relative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a word referring grammatically to an antecedent
2 : a thing having a relation to or connection with or necessary dependence on another thing
3a : a person connected with another by blood or affinity
b : an animal or plant related to another by common descent
4 : a relative term

relative

adjective

Definition of relative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : introducing a subordinate clause qualifying an expressed or implied antecedent a relative pronoun also : introduced by such a connective a relative clause
2 : relevant, pertinent matters relative to world peace
3 : not absolute or independent : comparative the relative isolation of life in the country
4 : having the same key signature used of major and minor keys and scales
5 : expressed as the ratio of the specified quantity (such as an error in measuring) to the total magnitude (such as the value of a measured quantity) or to the mean of all the quantities involved

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Synonyms & Antonyms for relative

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

  • nonrelative

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of relative in a Sentence

Noun At the family reunion, I saw relatives I haven't seen in years. He inherited a small piece of land from a distant relative. The donkey is a relative of the horse. Adjective the relative value of two houses the relative positions of the islands We discussed the relative merits of each school. “Who,” “whom,” “whose,” “which,” and “that” are all relative pronouns. The phrase “that won” in “the book that won” is a relative clause.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The woman is a relative of the dead child, according to documents obtained from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office. Samantha Hendrickson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 Sep. 2021 Brown is a relative of a young woman with whom Washington was friends in high school. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 26 Aug. 2021 Was a relative of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. CNN, 11 Aug. 2021 Native to Europe, poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is a relative of carrots and parsley that was brought to North America in the 1800s as an ornamental plant because of its ferny leaves. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Aug. 2021 Eastern gamagrass is a relative of corn and likes to grow on the edges of marshes. Caroline Spivack, Curbed, 22 July 2021 It’s long been thought that Frappato is a relative of Sangiovese, the red grape of Tuscany, and the results of at least one DNA test seem to confirm that, but the link isn’t a complete certainty. Lettie Teague, WSJ, 21 July 2021 The second person to die was a relative of the village chief. New York Times, 11 July 2021 If a child doesn't use the money, it can be transferred to a sibling, parent or other relative for further education. Ashley Luthern, jsonline.com, 29 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But, as was to be expected, Donald Trump, for whom all facts are relative, rejected the findings. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2021 Yet for others, returning to their former lives—and much of the outside world—is proving tough after more than a year of relative isolation. Ray A. Smith, WSJ, 21 July 2021 On the evening of Tuesday, June 15th, after more than a year of relative isolation, an aspiring singer named Lily Davies entered a recording studio in Toronto for her first post-pandemic writing session with strangers. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 2 July 2021 The pandemic, said Giegel, and lessons learned from a year and a half of relative isolation, have also increased the incentive for developing transportation alternatives like hyperloop. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, 21 June 2021 Residents are dining in relative isolation and playing bingo and doing crafts at a distance. Michael Rubinkam, chicagotribune.com, 19 June 2021 Residents are dining in relative isolation and playing bingo and doing crafts at a distance. Michael Rubinkam, ajc, 19 June 2021 Beyond more obvious depression and mental illness cases, almost all of us will experience the ripple effects of going through more than a year of relative isolation. Naz Beheshti, Forbes, 17 June 2021 For millions of Americans, weddings will be the first gatherings at which they will be surrounded by dozens—even hundreds—of people after a year of relative isolation. Eliana Dockterman, Time, 29 May 2021

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for relative

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near relative

relatival

relative

relative adjective

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Statistics for relative

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Relative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/relative. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for relative

relative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of relative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a member of your family
: something that belongs to the same group as something else because of shared characteristics, qualities, etc.

relative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of relative (Entry 2 of 2)

: compared to someone or something else or to each other
: seeming to be something when compared with others
: referring to a noun, a part of a sentence, or a sentence that was used earlier

relative

noun
rel·​a·​tive | \ ˈre-lə-tiv How to pronounce relative (audio) \

Kids Definition of relative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person connected with another by ancestry or marriage

relative

adjective

Kids Definition of relative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : existing in comparison to something else What is the relative value of the two houses?
2 : relevant Please ask questions relative to the topic.

Other Words from relative

relatively adverb It's been a relatively dry year.

relative

adjective
rel·​a·​tive

Legal Definition of relative

1 : not absolute
2 in the civil law of Louisiana : having or allowing some legal effect a relative impediment a relative simulation — see also relative nullity at nullity

Other Words from relative

relatively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on relative

Nglish: Translation of relative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relative for Arabic Speakers

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