rel·​a·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ ˌre-lə-ˈti-və-tē How to pronounce relativity (audio) \
plural relativities

Definition of relativity

1a : the quality or state of being relative
b : something that is relative
2 : the state of being dependent for existence on or determined in nature, value, or quality by relation to something else
3a : a theory which is based on the two postulates (1) that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and independent of the source or observer and (2) that the mathematical forms of the laws of physics are invariant in all inertial systems and which leads to the assertion of the equivalence of mass and energy and of change in mass, dimension, and time with increased velocity

called also special relativity, special theory of relativity

b : an extension of the theory to include gravitation and related acceleration phenomena

called also general relativity, general theory of relativity

Examples of relativity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Above all, Seurat cherished the relativity of colors and the constantly shifting interdependency of tones. Washington Post, 13 July 2022 Readers are urged to consider heady concepts such as the relativity of time through popular knowledge (such as Usain Bolt’s sprinting speed)—but never without guidance. Amy Brady, Scientific American, 16 June 2022 The team consulted with actual astrophysicists and remains one of the few films to actually depict relativity theory in a plausible way. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 9 Mar. 2022 Time is also at the heart of relativity theory, and Albert was a budding math and physics prodigy living in Italy when Jakob Einstein & Co. marketed its machinery. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, 26 Dec. 2021 My understanding is that, broadly speaking, physics is the study of very small things — quantum physics, particle physics — and very big things — astrophysics, relativity theory. David Marchesephotograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2021 The observations also give scientists the opportunity to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. Brendan Byrne, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 May 2022 The automobile and telephone were coming into wide use and electrical power grids were revolutionizing city life, while the world of ideas was being transformed by Freudian psychology and Einstein’s theory of relativity. Susan Delson, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 Our ability to consider space in this way is consistent with Einstein’s theory of relativity, which itself explains the limit on how fast objects can travel through space. Scientific American, 16 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'relativity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of relativity

circa 1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for relativity

Time Traveler

The first known use of relativity was circa 1834

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Relativity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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