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 General relativity renders gravity in a new light: Instead of thinking of it as a force, general relativity describes gravity as a bending or warping of space-time. Matthew Pillsbury, Travel, "Time travel for travelers? It’s tricky.," 28 Dec. 2020 Sixty years after Wigner wrote his essay, quantum mechanics and relativity remain unreconciled. John Horgan, Scientific American, "Is the Schrödinger Equation True?," 7 Jan. 2021 In 1905, Albert Einstein published the first part of his relativity theory, known as special relativity. Matthew Pillsbury, Travel, "Time travel for travelers? It’s tricky.," 28 Dec. 2020 When Messiaen glances at time, rhythmic canons move with the mysterious complexity of relativity. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Most heavenly holiday music: Messiaen and Christmas in 20 virtuosic piano visions," 23 Dec. 2020 Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Mixed-Up Masters of Early Animation," 21 Dec. 2020 How can things that violate general relativity be understood within the same single physics framework as things that do observe relativity? Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "New Experiment Utterly Alters What We Know About Black Holes," 14 Dec. 2020 By publishing a general mathematical theory of information—almost as if Einstein had invented physics and come up with relativity in one swoop—Shannon set a foundation for the internet, mobile communications, and everything else in the digital age. Steven Levy, Wired, "Huawei, 5G, and the Man Who Conquered Noise," 16 Nov. 2020 Nope, not relating to the season, other relativity notwithstanding. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1410: Bzzzz! You’re out!," 12 Nov. 2020

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.

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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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Statistics for relativity

Last Updated

10 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Relativity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for relativity



English Language Learners Definition of relativity

physics : a theory developed by Albert Einstein which says that the way that anything except light moves through time and space depends on the position and movement of someone who is watching

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