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’
    • ‘The sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles.’
    • ‘Everywhere you look, this concept inspires admiration and trepidation in almost equal measure.’
    • ‘Night and day are in perfect balance, only twice a year do day and night become equal in length.’
    • ‘The amount of the deduction is equal to the value of the stock contributed.’
    • ‘Few of the items produced within the country are considered equal in quality to foreign products.’
    • ‘Several forms of verbal therapy have roughly equal effects, he noted.’
    • ‘Trim off the ends of each package and slice each into five equal portions.’
    • ‘This team observed that fatty meals produce as much reflux over six hours as a balanced meal with an equal number of calories.’
    • ‘York-based Northern Spirit are recruiting 50 new drivers and say they want an equal number of applications from both sexes.’
    • ‘In estimating, it can be assumed that the yield of the concrete will be approximately equal to the quantity of gravel used.’
    • ‘In very rare cases, the right and left groove appear equal in size.’
    • ‘Nearly equal amounts of the hormone are derived from the adrenal glands and the ovaries.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The amount of money taken in was roughly equal to the amount of money paid out.’
    • ‘Milk should be frozen in portions approximately equal to the amount needed for one or two feedings.’
    • ‘He also knows the critical letters will be balanced by an equal number of friendly letters.’
    • ‘Overall, the acts and scenes comprising the narrative of folktales of this type are roughly equal in length.’
    • ‘We begin with a law of international relations: no action involving two countries has equal effects on each.’
    identical, uniform, alike, like, the same, one and the same, equivalent, indistinguishable
    equivalent, identical, amounting
    View synonyms
    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’
      • ‘This experience reinforced American egalitarianism, the belief that everyone is equal in status.’
      • ‘All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
      • ‘Women are finally becoming equal with men and not before time.’
      • ‘Legislation giving women status as equal partners in marriage was passed in 1993.’
      • ‘Until gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are fully equal under law, we are second-class citizens.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, " it declared.’
      • ‘We're all more or less equal: let the calculators do the dividing.’
      • ‘Weren't women already equal in the eyes of the law?’
      • ‘Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
      • ‘The thesis is that in traditional Aboriginal societies, women were equal to men and treated with respect.’
      • ‘We are taught that all men are created equal in the eyes of God and there is only one God.’
      • ‘In respect to civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.’
      • ‘He is not equal in status to the other citizens.’
      • ‘Under a human-rights focused democracy, all people are equal before the law.’
      • ‘Can citizens be considered equal if they possess very different degrees of economic power?’
    2. 1.2Uniform in application or effect; without discrimination on any grounds.
      ‘a dedicated campaigner for equal rights’
      • ‘No one is safe unless and until we all share equal protection under the same laws.’
      • ‘Article 26 provides that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.’
      • ‘They also indicated in large numbers that they hoped to end segregation and discrimination and receive equal, just, and fair treatment.’
      • ‘I will do everything in my power to fight for fair and equal treatment.’
      • ‘The report found pregnancy discrimination, equal pay, harassment, access to employment and promotion, and dismissal as causes of complaint.’
      • ‘Labour health spokesperson Liz McManus said the party was committed to providing equal access to a high-quality health service.’
      • ‘The primary goal of school reform must be to provide more equal education opportunities.’
      • ‘A professional equal opportunities approach must underpin appointments, otherwise the same old faces will reappear.’
      • ‘Student Services created Services for Students with Disabilities to provide equal access and opportunities to students with disabilities.’
      • ‘Although people claim there is an even playing field now and all access to opportunities is equal, it's not yet true.’
      • ‘These valuable resources will be managed through a local community structure working on the ethos of equal access to opportunities for all.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Until the achievement of equal pay in 1974, men fared better than women.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I asked for equal rights and opportunities and I tried my hardest to achieve it.’
      • ‘Instead, all property should be owned collectively, and all people should have equal social and economic status.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After all, these were just two small units in a vast country where every Soviet citizen enjoyed equal rights and opportunities.’
      • ‘I admit that I prefer working with men and I am in favour of equal employment opportunities.’
      • ‘Equal pay is also historically significant in the context of age and race.’
    3. 1.3Evenly or fairly balanced.
      ‘it was hardly an equal contest’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘War serves a good purpose when it is an equal fight.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘You cannot sort of just parachute in without opportunity for open and equal competition as part of the process.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Having 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.’
    • ‘The people of York have proved themselves equal to the task.’
    • ‘Against the wind in the second half, Confey now had to face a far tougher challenge but they were equal to the task.’
    • ‘He soon proved himself more than equal to the demands of combat soldiering.’
    • ‘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.’
    capable of, fit for, up to, good enough for, strong enough for, adequate for, sufficient for, ready for
    suitable for, suited to, appropriate for
    up to scratch, having what it takes
    View synonyms


  • 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’
    • ‘She had never done so before, but she doubted that she was meant to be his intellectual equal anymore.’
    • ‘Vegetarians' concern for animals and their refusal to treat animals cruelly does not mean that they regard animals as equals.’
    • ‘The stairways and the timbers used have had few equals in the present day.’
    • ‘In any event, the dishes were the equal of anything I've ever tasted anywhere in the world.’
    • ‘For Juliet the relief must come from realising she has produced an album the equal of, if not better than, ‘Burn The Black Suit’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Consider the statement: Women are, and should be treated as, the equals of men.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At last, an intelligent email from an intellectual equal.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I've eaten at a lot of Chinese restaurants on three different continents, and this was easily the equal of the best of them.’
    • ‘But generally, the standard is high - these funny and charming wannabes are the equal of many stand-ups I've seen on the circuit.’
    • ‘Now we can negotiate as equals with the administration.’
    • ‘He was now a land owner - the equal of his former employers.’
    • ‘I consider myself one of the best producers in New York, and she's easily my equal, if not my superior.’
    • ‘The SAS is Great Britain's most elite force, the equal of any special forces group in the world.’
    • ‘Marina, on the other hand, is pretty, uninhibited, and not Holly's intellectual equal.’
    • ‘Indeed, one of the fundamental demands of striking workers in the preceding years was to be treated as the equal of their masters.’
    • ‘Bergerac has an under-appreciated white wine, Monbazillac, that is almost the equal of many Sauternes and much less expensive.’
    • ‘In the pantheon of funnymen, Rodney was, and still is, without equal.’
    equivalent, peer, fellow, coequal, like
    mate, twin, alter ego, counterpart, match, parallel
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  • 1 Be the same as in number or amount.

    ‘four plus six divided by two equals five’
    ‘the total debits should equal the total credits’
    • ‘Under our assumptions, $.50 divided by 1.5 equals $.33.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But since equity equals assets minus total debt, a company decreases its equity by increasing debt.’
    • ‘Yet 371 people were arrested, equaling approximately 40 people per incident.’
    • ‘Daily calcium intake should equal approximately 1500 mg of elemental calcium.’
    • ‘The total amount of the invoice equalled the amount of finance available, namely £14.5 millions.’
    • ‘Your daily calorie intake should equal approximately 13 times your body weight if you're active.’
    • ‘Exports of such services equalled 0.6 percent of all exports of goods and services in 2000.’
    • ‘To emphasize the nature of rent as a surplus, George notes that wages plus returns to capital goods equal the total produce minus rent.’
    • ‘The cost would roughly equal the amount currently spent by oil companies on petroleum exploration and production.’
    • ‘The net worth of the 30 richest Americans equals approximately $500 billion.’
    • ‘The formula that represents power density is watts times time, divided by spot size, equals power density.’
    • ‘Net consumption divided by total capital invested equals a rate of profit of 11.11%.’
    • ‘Table VII shows that the number of paper-cutting opportunities nearly equaled the total number of paper-folding opportunities in the ten textbooks.’
    • ‘Total seed number per plant equals the sum of seeds over all mature fruits.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The amount equals the compensation the European Union is seeking for the impact of the tax breaks on businesses in the union.’
    • ‘Euler asserts that the sum of the harmonic series equals the natural logarithm of infinity plus a quantity that is nearly a constant.’
    • ‘For example, total charges must equal total credits.’
    • ‘Regional totals of disease incidence or patients receiving treatment often do not equal the sum of published country specific figures.’
    be equal to, be equivalent to, be the same as, correspond to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Match or rival in performance or extent.
      ‘he equalled the world record of 9.93 seconds’
      • ‘He already has equaled his stolen base total from 1999.’
      • ‘Five centuries - equalling the best ever total in a best-of - 25-frames match - were the highlights.’
      • ‘His love of sport was only equalled by his developed love of history.’
      • ‘At Goodwood today, it is odds-on that a horse will equal a feat not seen in 30 years.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The time of 2: 15.10 on a firm course equals the course record.’
      • ‘The record was not equalled until August this year by Arsene Wenger's awesome Arsenal side.’
      • ‘McEvoy equalled the course record and snatched the halfway lead, before tailing off.’
      • ‘With the big serves in today's tennis, I'm not sure this match will ever be equalled.’
      • ‘Browne's time in the 60m sprint equalled his best performance this year, which has him ranked in the top 10 nationally.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Airports consume land, energy and dumping capacity at rates rarely equalled anywhere else.’
      • ‘How could he have done something to equal what I had done?’
      • ‘This time the Trophy Match equalled the flawless performance of the other two.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You were a true professional, whose paranoia equalled only my own.’
      • ‘Graeme Smith's South Africa needed a win to equal Australia's world record of 21 unbeaten matches set in 2003.’
      • ‘His fury at his compatriots is only equalled by his contempt for the Americans.’
      • ‘Unfortunately for Mackie, the men managed to equal that feat within the next two hours.’
    2. 1.2Be equivalent to.
      ‘his work is concerned with why private property equals exploitation’
      • ‘But I still don't understand why tragedy plus time equals profit.’
      • ‘But in this industry, status does not necessarily equal dollars or employment.’
      • ‘The kind of space that I want to create is one where men do not think that a short skirt equals consent.’
      • ‘In this case, as in English common law, silence equals consent.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Personal trainer Paul Leong agrees that fitness without proper nutrition equals poor results in overall health and weight loss.’
      • ‘Or as is said in economics, private benefit equals social benefit.’
      • ‘The formula would be privatization plus deregulation equals efficiency.’
      • ‘What you mean cannot equal what you say, because words and meaning are not identical.’
      • ‘The relationship between culture and society is not, as Okri appears to suggest, one of strict equivalence, as in great society equals great culture.’
      • ‘What these works reveal most vividly is that suburban history is, more than anything else, a story in which property equals power.’
      • ‘Lost quality equals lost income, while the farmgate price for cereals continues to be depressed.’
      • ‘A danger to his property equaled a direct danger to him.’
      • ‘But to the extent that virility equals violence it is not a vital force but only a cover for the real frigidity.’


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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although America might be first among equals, its conscious and unconscious existence is tightly coupled to experiences shared with its global neighbors.’
      • ‘As the first among equals, the Prime Minister will symbolically have his finger on the nuclear button.’
      • ‘They also recognize the Pope as the principal hierarch, the first among equals.’
      • ‘The whole tenet on which Hauser bases his fascinating book is that the human species is, as it were, first among equals.’
      • ‘Sorry Campbell, you may be the first among equals, but you ain't the boss.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This should be troubling, this complete lack of clear ideas from the man who will be our first among equals.’
      • ‘He will be the first among equals, but they will all have to prove themselves.’
      • ‘At their best, they are the best, first among equals.’
  • on equal terms

    • With the same advantages and disadvantages.

      ‘all companies should be able to compete on equal terms’
      • ‘Private hospitals, whether for profit or not, would compete on equal terms.’
      • ‘Philip gave her a curious look, standing to face her on equal terms.’
      • ‘We do not succeed in meeting on equal terms those who lack the privilege of a history.’
      • ‘We are seeing emerge a kaleidoscopic collection of niche high quality businesses which can compete on equal terms in the international market.’
      • ‘Companies are no longer allowed to exclude part-time workers - they must offer membership to everyone on equal terms.’
      • ‘I truly love a woman who will take on a man in a fight on equal terms.’
      • ‘Graduate students, junior faculty, senior distinguished professors all entered the lists on equal terms.’
      • ‘Catholic bishops claimed to correspond with provincial governors 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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Because in economics, as you and I both know, if there's demand, prices are going to rise, all other things being equal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Other things being roughly equal, Supreme Court Justices of all political persuasions are best served by like-minded clerks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But all other things being equal, the view is that we feel that congestion charges are the most realistic way ahead.’
      • ‘I'm sure all things being equal, he'd rather be someplace else.’
      • ‘So, all other things being equal, the left-handed trait, which is largely genetic, should have died out long ago in prehistory.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
      View synonyms
  • 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’
      • ‘They are trying to get the state to stop claiming that some relationships are more equal than others.’
      • ‘It seems that some groups are more equal than others in the eyes of the government's equality envoy.’
      • ‘To paraphrase George Orwell from his book, Animal Farm: ' All fuels are equal but some are more equal than others '.’
      • ‘Some vested interests are more equal than others.’
      • ‘It means some patients are more equal than others.’
      • ‘All genders are equal, you see, But on the far left some genders are more equal than others.’
      • ‘There may be the need for equality but to many unionists, some people are more equal than others.’
      • ‘All genres are equal, but in the eyes of Hollywood, some genres are more equal than others.’
      • ‘The squabbles about the International Criminal Court indicate that some states are more equal than others.’
      • ‘Well, it turns out, some equal rights are more equal than others.’


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