relative

noun
rel·​a·​tive | \ ˈre-lə-tiv \

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

cousin, kin, kinsman, relation

Synonyms: Adjective

almost, approximate, comparative, near

Antonyms: Noun

nonrelative

Antonyms: Adjective

absolute, complete, downright, out-and-out, outright, perfect, pure, unqualified

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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

Farmers have cultivated the Peruvian plant for more than 3,000 years in the Andes mountains, but the radish relative has recently popped up in everything from lattes and smoothies to capsules and even beauty products. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Does Maca Powder Have Health Benefits for Women? Here's What the Science Says," 14 Jan. 2019 Most of those children came without older relatives, but about 70 were separated from their parents as a part of the zero tolerance policy, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office. Skyler Swisher, Sun-Sentinel.com, "At Guatemalan-Maya Center, fear grips South Florida undocumented immigrants," 9 July 2018 Nvidia has received some criticism from enthusiasts concerning the price of its RTX cards and the relative of lack of game support at present. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "AMD's CEO Lisa Su confirms ray tracing GPU development, hints at more 3rd-gen Ryzen cores," 9 Jan. 2019 The infant’s body was found by a relative in a well behind his home on Sunday, a day after he was taken, according to the BBC. Fox News, "'Baby snatcher' monkey hunted after infant found dead in well," 2 Oct. 2018 Donating to On Your Marq was something personal as well, as the Millers have a close relative with Asperger's. Jennifer Walter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Specialized program for Marquette undergraduates with autism disorders gifted $450,000, set to launch fall 2019," 9 July 2018 Inject an Egyptian fruit bat with the Marburg virus - a hemorrhagic relative of the infamous Ebola virus - and nothing happens. Lucy Cooke, ajc, "US military is interested in bats as possible defenders against bioweapons," 3 July 2018 Almost everyone your correspondent spoke to had buried a close relative. The Economist, "How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria," 28 June 2018 When a relative can’t be found, children are kept longer at government shelters or transferred to a sponsor's care. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "How a Child Moves Through a Broken Immigration System," 20 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Here, five designers share their secret sources for one-of-a-kind furnishings on the (actual and sometimes relative) cheap. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "The Best Places To Find Affordable Vintage Furniture, According To 5 Designers," 28 Dec. 2018 Smaller cities like Puebla, Mexico; Nashville; Bruges, Belgium; and Minneapolis—because of their relative calm, creative class, and affordability—are on our readers' radar like never before. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Travelogue Podcast: Inside the 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 19 Oct. 2018 This both harmonized trade between countries and stabilized relative currency values. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?," 7 May 2018 Photo: chris wattie/Reuters Some analysts said falling stock prices were also attracting investors to the relative safety of U.S. government debt. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "U.S. Government Bonds Gain as Fed Direction Remains Uncertain," 17 Dec. 2018 One of the owners of the home is a technology CEO with a relative whose home also caught fire Tuesday, records show. Mike Catalini, The Seattle Times, "2 kids, 2 adults dead in arson fire at mansion," 21 Nov. 2018 The Soviet Army issued them on a wide scale to compensate for the AK-47’s relative lack of accuracy. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Meet the Chukavin, Russia’s New Sniper Rifle," 6 Dec. 2018 And at the center of the swarm was Kim, an actor suddenly catapulted from a relative newcomer to the key player in a beloved series. Lilli Millhiser, Glamour, "Everyone Is Going to Be Talking About Fantastic Beasts Actress Claudia Kim," 14 Nov. 2018 In the long term, if it ... As AI gets probably much smarter than humans, the relative intelligence ratio is probably similar to that between a person and a cat, maybe bigger. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Recode Decode," 2 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for relative

Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for relative

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

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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
grammar : referring to a noun, a part of a sentence, or a sentence that was used earlier

relative

noun
rel·​a·​tive | \ ˈre-lə-tiv \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on relative

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relative

Spanish Central: Translation of relative

Nglish: Translation of relative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relative for Arabic Speakers

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