Definition of equal in English:



  • 1Being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value.

    ‘add equal amounts of water and flour’
    ‘1 litre is roughly equal to 1 quart’
    • ‘Few of the items produced within the country are considered equal in quality to foreign products.’
    • ‘Trim off the ends of each package and slice each into five equal portions.’
    • ‘The film has its fascinating and tedious elements, in nearly equal measure.’
    • ‘For example, a student knows that 32 degrees Fahrenheit is freezing and is equal to 0 degrees Celsius.’
    • ‘This team observed that fatty meals produce as much reflux over six hours as a balanced meal with an equal number of calories.’
    • ‘Overall, the acts and scenes comprising the narrative of folktales of this type are roughly equal in length.’
    • ‘The amount of money taken in was roughly equal to the amount of money paid out.’
    • ‘Several forms of verbal therapy have roughly equal effects, he noted.’
    • ‘The sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles.’
    • ‘The amount of the deduction is equal to the value of the stock contributed.’
    • ‘Milk should be frozen in portions approximately equal to the amount needed for one or two feedings.’
    • ‘Night and day are in perfect balance, only twice a year do day and night become equal in length.’
    • ‘In estimating, it can be assumed that the yield of the concrete will be approximately equal to the quantity of gravel used.’
    • ‘Everywhere you look, this concept inspires admiration and trepidation in almost equal measure.’
    • ‘We begin with a law of international relations: no action involving two countries has equal effects on each.’
    • ‘In very rare cases, the right and left groove appear equal in size.’
    • ‘York-based Northern Spirit are recruiting 50 new drivers and say they want an equal number of applications from both sexes.’
    • ‘He also knows the critical letters will be balanced by an equal number of friendly letters.’
    • ‘But it is still not clear how to find an efficient allocation in which the value of consumption is equal to income for all consumers.’
    • ‘Nearly equal amounts of the hormone are derived from the adrenal glands and the ovaries.’
    identical, uniform, alike, like, the same, one and the same, equivalent, indistinguishable
    equivalent, identical, amounting
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    1. 1.1 (of people) having the same status, rights, or opportunities.
      ‘people are born free and equal’
      ‘a society where women and men are equal partners’
      • ‘We're all more or less equal: let the calculators do the dividing.’
      • ‘French authorities contend the principle of secularism is meant to make everybody equal.’
      • ‘No one is above the law and everyone is equal before the law.’
      • ‘We are taught that all men are created equal in the eyes of God and there is only one God.’
      • ‘Legislation giving women status as equal partners in marriage was passed in 1993.’
      • ‘Weren't women already equal in the eyes of the law?’
      • ‘Can citizens be considered equal if they possess very different degrees of economic power?’
      • ‘This experience reinforced American egalitarianism, the belief that everyone is equal in status.’
      • ‘He is not equal in status to the other citizens.’
      • ‘The thesis is that in traditional Aboriginal societies, women were equal to men and treated with respect.’
      • ‘In respect to civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.’
      • ‘Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
      • ‘Women are finally becoming equal with men and not before time.’
      • ‘Until gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are fully equal under law, we are second-class citizens.’
      • ‘"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, " it declared.’
      • ‘Under a human-rights focused democracy, all people are equal before the law.’
      • ‘All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
    2. 1.2 Uniform in application or effect; without discrimination on any grounds.
      ‘a dedicated campaigner for equal rights’
      • ‘Equal pay is also historically significant in the context of age and race.’
      • ‘Instead, all property should be owned collectively, and all people should have equal social and economic status.’
      • ‘No one is safe unless and until we all share equal protection under the same laws.’
      • ‘In the 1960s she worked to improve women's access to education and training and to promote equal pay and opportunity.’
      • ‘What we advocate is not that everyone is the same, but rather, all should have equal access to opportunity.’
      • ‘These valuable resources will be managed through a local community structure working on the ethos of equal access to opportunities for all.’
      • ‘They also indicated in large numbers that they hoped to end segregation and discrimination and receive equal, just, and fair treatment.’
      • ‘Student Services created Services for Students with Disabilities to provide equal access and opportunities to students with disabilities.’
      • ‘Until the achievement of equal pay in 1974, men fared better than women.’
      • ‘Although people claim there is an even playing field now and all access to opportunities is equal, it's not yet true.’
      • ‘I will do everything in my power to fight for fair and equal treatment.’
      • ‘Article 26 provides that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.’
      • ‘A professional equal opportunities approach must underpin appointments, otherwise the same old faces will reappear.’
      • ‘As adults we all have equal status - not economically, not in terms of our beauty, our background or how nice our parents are, but in terms of our rights.’
      • ‘Labour health spokesperson Liz McManus said the party was committed to providing equal access to a high-quality health service.’
      • ‘After all, these were just two small units in a vast country where every Soviet citizen enjoyed equal rights and opportunities.’
      • ‘I asked for equal rights and opportunities and I tried my hardest to achieve it.’
      • ‘The report found pregnancy discrimination, equal pay, harassment, access to employment and promotion, and dismissal as causes of complaint.’
      • ‘I admit that I prefer working with men and I am in favour of equal employment opportunities.’
      • ‘The primary goal of school reform must be to provide more equal education opportunities.’
      • ‘You must have been playing this ‘ignorance is bliss’ game for a while now if you believe that we all have equal rights and opportunities here.’
      unbiased, impartial, non-partisan, fair, fair-minded, just, even-handed, equitable
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    3. 1.3 Evenly or fairly balanced.
      ‘it was hardly an equal contest’
      • ‘It is difficult to foster and feed the kind of balanced, equal relationship that can sustain us into the future.’
      • ‘At first, it seemed reasonable; everyone had fairly equal responsibilities, which I noted she never bothered with herself.’
      • ‘The duel - more equal and balanced in the play than in the film, where the camera unfairly favours Nicholson - is a showdown between two opposed acting styles.’
      • ‘Will ‘close’ allies be persuaded to buy the US technologies as the price of a more equal relationship on the ground?’
      • ‘I'm no great fan of his but I do like to see an equal contest and I don't think that's what we're getting in this campaign.’
      • ‘The scrum is supposed to be an equal contest and you would expect a pack of 900 kg to dominate a pack of 800 kg.’
      • ‘War serves a good purpose when it is an equal fight.’
      • ‘You cannot sort of just parachute in without opportunity for open and equal competition as part of the process.’
      evenly matched, evenly balanced, even, balanced, level, evenly proportioned, well matched, on a par, on an equal footing
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  • 2equal toHaving the ability or resources to meet (a challenge)

    ‘the players proved equal to the task’
    • ‘With her comprehensive research, sound analysis, and engaging style, Williams proves herself equal to the task.’
    • ‘He soon proved himself more than equal to the demands of combat soldiering.’
    • ‘The people of York have proved themselves equal to the task.’
    • ‘After reading the screenplay Stalin noted, " comrade Eisenstein proved himself equal to the task".’
    • ‘I just don't feel equal to the challenge that I'm facing now.’
    • ‘Against the wind in the second half, Confey now had to face a far tougher challenge but they were equal to the task.’
    capable of, fit for, up to, good enough for, strong enough for, adequate for, sufficient for, ready for
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  • A person or thing that is the same as another in status or quality.

    ‘we all treat each other as equals’
    ‘entertainment facilities without equal in the British Isles’
    • ‘Consider the statement: Women are, and should be treated as, the equals of men.’
    • ‘The SAS is Great Britain's most elite force, the equal of any special forces group in the world.’
    • ‘A dozen short stories precede the novella, a reminder that while Updike may not be the equal of, say, Carver, in that genre he has few equals among his contemporaries.’
    • ‘He was now a land owner - the equal of his former employers.’
    • ‘Indeed, one of the fundamental demands of striking workers in the preceding years was to be treated as the equal of their masters.’
    • ‘In any event, the dishes were the equal of anything I've ever tasted anywhere in the world.’
    • ‘I think that winning the Champions League would allow us to step up to another level and to become the equal of the great European clubs.’
    • ‘The stairways and the timbers used have had few equals in the present day.’
    • ‘I consider myself one of the best producers in New York, and she's easily my equal, if not my superior.’
    • ‘I've eaten at a lot of Chinese restaurants on three different continents, and this was easily the equal of the best of them.’
    • ‘At last, an intelligent email from an intellectual equal.’
    • ‘Marina, on the other hand, is pretty, uninhibited, and not Holly's intellectual equal.’
    • ‘Vegetarians' concern for animals and their refusal to treat animals cruelly does not mean that they regard animals as equals.’
    • ‘In the United States, most things are done by the private sector, and most things here are at least the equal of their counterparts everywhere in the world.’
    • ‘Bergerac has an under-appreciated white wine, Monbazillac, that is almost the equal of many Sauternes and much less expensive.’
    • ‘For Juliet the relief must come from realising she has produced an album the equal of, if not better than, ‘Burn The Black Suit’.’
    • ‘Now we can negotiate as equals with the administration.’
    • ‘But generally, the standard is high - these funny and charming wannabes are the equal of many stand-ups I've seen on the circuit.’
    • ‘In the pantheon of funnymen, Rodney was, and still is, without equal.’
    • ‘She had never done so before, but she doubted that she was meant to be his intellectual equal anymore.’
    equivalent, peer, fellow, coequal, like
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[with object]
  • 1Be the same as in number or amount.

    ‘four plus six divided by two equals five’
    ‘the total debits should equal the total credits’
    • ‘Daily calcium intake should equal approximately 1500 mg of elemental calcium.’
    • ‘For example, total charges must equal total credits.’
    • ‘The total amount of the invoice equalled the amount of finance available, namely £14.5 millions.’
    • ‘The amount equals the compensation the European Union is seeking for the impact of the tax breaks on businesses in the union.’
    • ‘To emphasize the nature of rent as a surplus, George notes that wages plus returns to capital goods equal the total produce minus rent.’
    • ‘But since equity equals assets minus total debt, a company decreases its equity by increasing debt.’
    • ‘Total seed number per plant equals the sum of seeds over all mature fruits.’
    • ‘Exports of such services equalled 0.6 percent of all exports of goods and services in 2000.’
    • ‘A circle and square have an equal area only if the ratio between a side of the square and a radius of the circle equals the square root of pi.’
    • ‘Yet 371 people were arrested, equaling approximately 40 people per incident.’
    • ‘The first thing to note about the 8% figure quoted by the prime minister is that it does not equal the amount of total EU income spent on health care.’
    • ‘Net consumption divided by total capital invested equals a rate of profit of 11.11%.’
    • ‘Regional totals of disease incidence or patients receiving treatment often do not equal the sum of published country specific figures.’
    • ‘Table VII shows that the number of paper-cutting opportunities nearly equaled the total number of paper-folding opportunities in the ten textbooks.’
    • ‘The formula that represents power density is watts times time, divided by spot size, equals power density.’
    • ‘The cost would roughly equal the amount currently spent by oil companies on petroleum exploration and production.’
    • ‘Your daily calorie intake should equal approximately 13 times your body weight if you're active.’
    • ‘Euler asserts that the sum of the harmonic series equals the natural logarithm of infinity plus a quantity that is nearly a constant.’
    • ‘Under our assumptions, $.50 divided by 1.5 equals $.33.’
    • ‘The net worth of the 30 richest Americans equals approximately $500 billion.’
    be equal to, be equivalent to, be the same as, correspond to
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    1. 1.1 Match or rival in performance or extent.
      ‘he equalled the world record of 9.93 seconds’
      • ‘The record was not equalled until August this year by Arsene Wenger's awesome Arsenal side.’
      • ‘The women's fourth-place finish equaled their best ever performance set at last year's conference meet while the men's fifth-place finish was one better than last year.’
      • ‘How could he have done something to equal what I had done?’
      • ‘Airports consume land, energy and dumping capacity at rates rarely equalled anywhere else.’
      • ‘Publicly, she may well claim she aims to smash her final imprint into the record book, equalling the record of 20 Wimbledon titles garnered by Billie Jean King.’
      • ‘Five centuries - equalling the best ever total in a best-of - 25-frames match - were the highlights.’
      • ‘This time the Trophy Match equalled the flawless performance of the other two.’
      • ‘One of the main differences between the sides was that the losers could not equal the performances of a number of players in key positions.’
      • ‘Unfortunately for Mackie, the men managed to equal that feat within the next two hours.’
      • ‘You were a true professional, whose paranoia equalled only my own.’
      • ‘His fury at his compatriots is only equalled by his contempt for the Americans.’
      • ‘Browne's time in the 60m sprint equalled his best performance this year, which has him ranked in the top 10 nationally.’
      • ‘He has now scored five tries in just three appearances this season, equalling his total for the entire 1998 season and out-stripping the two he managed last term.’
      • ‘At Goodwood today, it is odds-on that a horse will equal a feat not seen in 30 years.’
      • ‘With the big serves in today's tennis, I'm not sure this match will ever be equalled.’
      • ‘His love of sport was only equalled by his developed love of history.’
      • ‘Graeme Smith's South Africa needed a win to equal Australia's world record of 21 unbeaten matches set in 2003.’
      • ‘McEvoy equalled the course record and snatched the halfway lead, before tailing off.’
      • ‘He already has equaled his stolen base total from 1999.’
      • ‘The time of 2: 15.10 on a firm course equals the course record.’
      match, reach, parallel, come up to, be level with, measure up to, achieve
      be as good as, be equal with, be even with, be level with, be a match for, match, measure up to, come up to, equate with, be in the same league as, be in the same category as, be tantamount to
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    2. 1.2 Be equivalent to.
      ‘his work is concerned with why private property equals exploitation’
      • ‘What you mean cannot equal what you say, because words and meaning are not identical.’
      • ‘Personal trainer Paul Leong agrees that fitness without proper nutrition equals poor results in overall health and weight loss.’
      • ‘But in this industry, status does not necessarily equal dollars or employment.’
      • ‘The formula would be privatization plus deregulation equals efficiency.’
      • ‘Let's talk about this: no breathing equals no oxygen equals total exhaustion.’
      • ‘Both universities have started educational campaigns to teach students that downloading copyrighted songs equals intellectual property theft.’
      • ‘A danger to his property equaled a direct danger to him.’
      • ‘What these works reveal most vividly is that suburban history is, more than anything else, a story in which property equals power.’
      • ‘Or as is said in economics, private benefit equals social benefit.’
      • ‘The relationship between culture and society is not, as Okri appears to suggest, one of strict equivalence, as in great society equals great culture.’
      • ‘The kind of space that I want to create is one where men do not think that a short skirt equals consent.’
      • ‘Lost quality equals lost income, while the farmgate price for cereals continues to be depressed.’
      • ‘But to the extent that virility equals violence it is not a vital force but only a cover for the real frigidity.’
      • ‘In this case, as in English common law, silence equals consent.’
      • ‘But I still don't understand why tragedy plus time equals profit.’
      be equal to, be equivalent to, be the same as, correspond to
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It is widely held that adjectives such as equal and unique should not be modified and that it is incorrect to say more equal or very unique, on the grounds that these are adjectives which refer to a logical or mathematical absolute. For more discussion of this question, see unique


  • (the) first among equals

    • The person or thing having the highest status in a group.

      ‘the clerk was regarded as first among equals by the other chief officers’
      • ‘He will be the first among equals, but they will all have to prove themselves.’
      • ‘In the past, the Pope of Alexandria was merely the first among equals, and reform movements had foundered on the autonomy of Egypt's bishops.’
      • ‘They also recognize the Pope as the principal hierarch, the first among equals.’
      • ‘Although America might be first among equals, its conscious and unconscious existence is tightly coupled to experiences shared with its global neighbors.’
      • ‘At their best, they are the best, first among equals.’
      • ‘Sorry Campbell, you may be the first among equals, but you ain't the boss.’
      • ‘As the first among equals, the Prime Minister will symbolically have his finger on the nuclear button.’
      • ‘This should be troubling, this complete lack of clear ideas from the man who will be our first among equals.’
      • ‘The official doctrine is that the prime minister is simply the first among equals, and the rule of collective responsibility emphasizes the collegial character of the cabinet.’
      • ‘The whole tenet on which Hauser bases his fascinating book is that the human species is, as it were, first among equals.’
  • on equal terms

    • With the same advantages and disadvantages.

      ‘all companies should be able to compete on equal terms’
      • ‘Companies are no longer allowed to exclude part-time workers - they must offer membership to everyone on equal terms.’
      • ‘We are seeing emerge a kaleidoscopic collection of niche high quality businesses which can compete on equal terms in the international market.’
      • ‘I truly love a woman who will take on a man in a fight on equal terms.’
      • ‘Philip gave her a curious look, standing to face her on equal terms.’
      • ‘The competition takes place on a level playing field, where every country has a chance to participate on equal terms.’
      • ‘For clubs playing in European competitions, a mid-season break would allow them to compete on equal terms.’
      • ‘Private hospitals, whether for profit or not, would compete on equal terms.’
      • ‘Catholic bishops claimed to correspond with provincial governors on equal terms.’
      • ‘We do not succeed in meeting on equal terms those who lack the privilege of a history.’
      • ‘Graduate students, junior faculty, senior distinguished professors all entered the lists on equal terms.’
  • other (or all) things being equal

    • Provided that other factors or circumstances remain the same.

      ‘it follows that, other things being equal, the price level will rise’
      • ‘It does not always provide for perfect justice or perfect security but, all things being equal, it is an improvement over the endless territorial and tribal wars that came before.’
      • ‘One view is that if the planning system were abolished tomorrow, the general level of house prices, all other things being equal, would not change very much.’
      • ‘So, all other things being equal, the left-handed trait, which is largely genetic, should have died out long ago in prehistory.’
      • ‘Once this finds an outlet through trade and specialisation, all things being equal, material progress follows.’
      • ‘As for me, all other things being equal, I'd rather live longer and would not begrudge further longevity to others.’
      • ‘But all other things being equal, the view is that we feel that congestion charges are the most realistic way ahead.’
      • ‘Time after time the courts have said that, all other things being equal, if the child has a good parent, that child should be with the parent.’
      • ‘Because in economics, as you and I both know, if there's demand, prices are going to rise, all other things being equal.’
      • ‘Other things being roughly equal, Supreme Court Justices of all political persuasions are best served by like-minded clerks.’
      • ‘I'm sure all things being equal, he'd rather be someplace else.’
      in all likelihood, in all probability, as likely as not, very likely, most likely, likely, as like as not, ten to one, the chances are, doubtless, no doubt, all things considered, taking all things into consideration, all things being equal, possibly, perhaps, maybe, it may be, presumably, on the face of it, apparently
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  • some — are more equal than others

    • Although members of a society or group appear to be equal, in reality some receive better treatment than others.

      ‘evidently, some communities are more equal than others’
      • ‘Well, it turns out, some equal rights are more equal than others.’
      • ‘It seems that some groups are more equal than others in the eyes of the government's equality envoy.’
      • ‘Some vested interests are more equal than others.’
      • ‘They are trying to get the state to stop claiming that some relationships are more equal than others.’
      • ‘To paraphrase George Orwell from his book, Animal Farm: ' All fuels are equal but some are more equal than others '.’
      • ‘It means some patients are more equal than others.’
      • ‘There may be the need for equality but to many unionists, some people are more equal than others.’
      • ‘The squabbles about the International Criminal Court indicate that some states are more equal than others.’
      • ‘All genres are equal, but in the eyes of Hollywood, some genres are more equal than others.’
      • ‘All genders are equal, you see, But on the far left some genders are more equal than others.’


Late Middle English: from Latin aequalis, from aequus ‘even, level, equal’.