positive

1 of 2

adjective

pos·​i·​tive ˈpä-zə-tiv How to pronounce positive (audio)
ˈpäz-tiv
1
a
: formally laid down or imposed : prescribed
positive laws
b
: expressed clearly or peremptorily
her answer was a positive no
c
: fully assured : confident
positive it was her book
2
a
: of, relating to, or constituting the degree of comparison that is expressed in English by the unmodified and uninflected form of an adjective or adverb and denotes no increase or diminution
b(1)
: independent of changing circumstances : unconditioned
an insurance policy with positive coverage
(2)
: relating to or constituting a motion or device that is definite, unyielding, constant, or certain in its action
a positive system of levers
c(1)
: incontestable
positive proof
(2)
: unqualified
a positive disgrace
3
a
: not fictitious : real
positive social tensions
b
: active and effective in social or economic function rather than merely maintaining peace and order
a positive government
4
a
: indicating, relating to, or characterized by affirmation, addition, inclusion, or presence rather than negation, withholding, or absence
took the positive approach and struck a new deal rather than canceling the contract
b
: having rendition of light and shade similar in tone to the tones of the original subject
a positive photographic image
c
: contributing toward or characterized by increase or progression
take some positive action
positive cash flow
d
: directed or moving toward a source of stimulation
a positive taxis
e
: real and numerically greater than zero
+2 is a positive integer
5
a(1)
: being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the proton is the elementary unit and which predominates in a glass body after being rubbed with silk
(2)
: having more protons than electrons
a positive ion
b(1)
: having higher electric potential and constituting the part from which the current flows to the external circuit
the positive terminal of a discharging storage battery
(2)
: being an electron-collecting electrode of an electron tube
6
a
: marked by or indicating acceptance, approval, or affirmation
received a positive response
b
: affirming the presence especially of a condition, substance, or organism suspected to be present
a positive test for blood
also : having a test result indicating the presence especially of a condition, substance, or organism
HIV positive
7
of a lens : converging light rays and forming a real inverted image
8
a
: having a good effect : favorable
a positive role model
b
: marked by optimism
the positive point of view
positively
ˈpä-zə-tiv-lē How to pronounce positive (audio)
 for emphasis often  ˌpä-zə-ˈtiv-
adverb
positiveness
ˈpä-zə-tiv-nəs How to pronounce positive (audio)
ˈpäz-tiv-
noun

positive

2 of 2

noun

: something positive: such as
a(1)
: the positive degree of comparison in a language
(2)
: a positive form of an adjective or adverb
b
: something of which an affirmation can be made : reality
c
: a positive photograph or a print from a negative
d
: a positive result (as of a test)
also : a test yielding such a result
Choose the Right Synonym for positive

sure, certain, positive, cocksure mean having no doubt or uncertainty.

sure usually stresses the subjective or intuitive feeling of assurance.

felt sure that I had forgotten something

certain may apply to a basing of a conclusion or conviction on definite grounds or indubitable evidence.

police are certain about the cause of the fire

positive intensifies sureness or certainty and may imply opinionated conviction or forceful expression of it.

I'm positive that's the person I saw

cocksure implies presumptuous or careless positiveness.

you're always so cocksure about everything

Example Sentences

Adjective The book had a positive influence on me. He has been a positive role model for his brother. Nothing positive came out of that experience. What are some of the positive things about your job? The low unemployment rate is a positive sign for the economy. The company took positive steps to create a safer workplace. You've got to have a positive attitude to do well in life. You should try to be more positive about the whole situation. On the positive side, you will be making more money. To end on a positive note, we are seeing an increase in sales this month. Noun The positives of living in the city include access to public transportation and many interesting restaurants. The test showed a positive. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Shoppers at The Wine Spot on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights have been positive and more generous. Paris Wolfe, cleveland, 25 Nov. 2022 Foxconn confirmed protests took place in a statement on Wednesday and denied that COVID-positive workers were staying in its dormitories. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 24 Nov. 2022 There’s also concern for snow geese after nearly 400 sick or dead geese were found at Wiser Lake in western Washington state a few days ago and several tested positive for avian flu. oregonlive, 23 Nov. 2022 In addition to whether tests are positive or negative, the portal asks people to report their age and zip code. Alexander Tin, CBS News, 23 Nov. 2022 Two ornaments for $50 helps Caracole cover utility bills for formerly homeless, HIV-positive people living in their housing programs. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 22 Nov. 2022 And whereas home users generally take a positive or negative result at face value, clinicians have more context with which to interpret false positives or false negatives. Brittany Trang, STAT, 22 Nov. 2022 Creating an online resource with positive and uplifting messages to inspire. Pam Mcloughlin, Hartford Courant, 22 Nov. 2022 Some of our favorite body-positive accounts teach us more about all the amazing things each and every body can achieve. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 22 Nov. 2022
Noun
The argument for affirmative action is one that treats race as not only synonymous with merit, but a convenient tactical positive. WSJ, 8 Nov. 2022 On Reddit, many members of the community still see the experience as a net positive. Wired, 31 July 2022 Women went from a net positive of 22 to a net negative of 13. Dante Chinni, NBC News, 28 Aug. 2022 He was urged to take a test and wound up popping a positive. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 26 May 2022 Russia may be run by a despot whose needless military adventurism will result in the death of thousands of Ukranians, but Chelsea’s recent run of success is a net positive. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 25 Feb. 2022 The only substantial positive is turnover numbers have stayed down. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 15 Feb. 2022 Dawson described the past few weeks as something of an emotional pendulum, as one test would come back negative, then the next positive. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 8 Feb. 2022 Health officials in Hong Kong are now investigating this as a possible case of animal-to-human transmission because two more human infections, one confirmed and one preliminary positive, were linked to the pet store. Washington Post, 18 Jan. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin positivus, from positus, past participle of ponere

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of positive was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near positive

Cite this Entry

“Positive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/positive. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

positive 1 of 2

adjective

pos·​i·​tive ˈpäz-ət-iv How to pronounce positive (audio)
ˈpäz-tiv
1
a
: clearly or definitely stated
positive orders
b
: filled with confidence : certain
were positive we would win
2
: of, relating to, or having the form of an adjective or adverb that shows no degree of comparison
3
a
: having or showing real existence or activity
positive change in temperature
b
: having the light and dark areas the same as in the original subject
a positive photographic image
c
: being numerically greater than zero
+2 is a positive number
d
: reckoned or proceeding in a direction taken as that of increase or progress
e
: directed or moving toward the source of a stimulus
a positive tropism
4
a
: of, being, or relating to electricity of which the proton is the smallest unit and which is produced in a glass rod rubbed with silk
a positive charge
b
: charged with positive electricity : having a deficiency of electrons
a positive particle
c
: being the part from which the current flows to the external circuit
the positive pole of a storage battery
d
: electron-collecting
used of an electrode in an electron tube
5
a
: showing acceptance or approval
a positive answer to the question
b
: showing the presence especially of a condition, substance, or living thing suspected to be present
the test for tuberculosis was positive
positively
ˈpäz-ət-iv-lē How to pronounce positive (audio)
ˈpäz-tiv-lē
ˌpäz-ə-ˈtiv-lē
adverb
positiveness noun

positive

2 of 2

noun

: something positive: as
a
: the positive degree or a positive form in a language
b
: a positive photograph or a print from a negative

Medical Definition

positive 1 of 2

adjective

pos·​i·​tive ˈpäz-ət-iv, ˈpäz-tiv How to pronounce positive (audio)
1
: directed or moving toward a source of stimulation
a positive taxis
2
: having rendition of light and shade similar in tone to the tones of the original
a positive photographic image
3
a(1)
: being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the proton is the elementary unit and which predominates in a glass body after being rubbed with silk
(2)
: having more protons than electrons
a positive ion
b(1)
: having higher electrical potential and constituting the part from which the current flows to the external circuit
the positive terminal of a discharging storage battery
(2)
: being an electron-collecting electrode of an electron tube
4
a
: marked by or indicating acceptance, approval, or affirmation
b
: affirming the presence of that sought or suspected to be present
a positive test for blood
5
of a lens : converging light rays and forming a real inverted image
positively
-lē, for emphasis often ˌpäz-ə-ˈtiv-
adverb

positive

2 of 2

noun

1
: a positive photograph or a print from a negative
2
: a positive result (as of a test)
also : a test yielding such a result

More from Merriam-Webster on positive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ