Definition of absolute in US English:



  • 1Not qualified or diminished in any way; total.

    ‘absolute secrecy’
    ‘absolute silence’
    ‘the attention he gave you was absolute’
    • ‘He was a scientist of absolute integrity and total dedication, with an incredible gift for efficiency.’
    • ‘Claiming that anything is 100% is like claiming perfection, total knowledge, and absolute truth.’
    • ‘The Minister has shown absolute disregard and displayed total indifference to the plight of people living in this area.’
    • ‘To River's total and absolute horror, Adam's fingers caught and fastened around his neck.’
    • ‘Claire decided the absolute silence from the crowd was better than what came next.’
    • ‘Wilkinson is a desperately complex person, driven by a need for absolute perfection and total control in his life.’
    • ‘Because, as the hatchway ground shut at the center of his dazed vision, something far more shocking took hold - a total and absolute silence.’
    • ‘One afternoon I left Johnny working underneath the jeep and wandered out of sight to an open meadow where the silence was absolute.’
    • ‘First, you need to have absolute passion and total belief in what you are trying to achieve.’
    • ‘Elizabeth stared after him in total and absolute shock.’
    • ‘The cardinals must take an oath when they first enter the conclave that they will abide by all rules set down by the Pope and that they will maintain absolute secrecy about the voting and deliberations.’
    • ‘The investigators had to maintain absolute secrecy, so all those recordings were locked away until the day that they were able to make arrests of the dozens of suspects.’
    • ‘The children are taken under the wing of zany housekeeper Martha but rarely see their uncle, who demands absolute silence while he writes his book.’
    • ‘Those working on the project were sworn to absolute secrecy.’
    • ‘He seemed to take all the light her eyes had picked up with him; the girl was left in total and absolute darkness.’
    • ‘It can be absolute liberation or total repression.’
    • ‘Sometimes, absolute silence is the most satisfying sound.’
    • ‘She talked between songs, explaining their origin - where, when, why and how she came up with them - and her soft voice was audible in the absolute silence of the theatre.’
    • ‘The rest of us can readily vouch for him as a man of total and absolute integrity, a friend above reproach.’
    • ‘When I saw it, the entire audience left the theatre in absolute silence.’
    complete, total, utter, out-and-out, outright, entire, perfect, pure, decided
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    1. 1.1 Used for general emphasis when expressing an opinion.
      ‘the policy is absolute folly’
      • ‘Gene Hackman's performance as outcast family patriarch Royal is an absolute joy to watch.’
      • ‘Coming to any form of decision under these conditions was, in his opinion, an absolute miracle.’
      • ‘Worse apparently is the fact that many garden beds are edged with untreated timber - an absolute no-no in their opinion.’
      • ‘The original trilogy is an absolute classic in my opinion so I would be surprised if I ever would like a remake.’
      • ‘First off, I'd like to say that Linux Journal is the absolute best Linux magazine out there in my opinion.’
      • ‘It is absolute folly to suggest that somehow water is special.’
      • ‘With the volume of traffic up and down this road twelve months of the year a proper crossing is an absolute necessity.’
      • ‘Yet three weeks later, he said: ‘It would be absolute folly to rule myself out of any job.’’
      • ‘Isn't to gamble and to lose itself a valuable demonstration of the absolute folly of a belief in untrammelled freedom?’
      • ‘My absolute favorite place was a tiny casino in the Royal Haitian Hotel in Port Au Prince, Haiti.’
      • ‘We've had an absolute ball, a real giggle and he's been like a breath of fresh air to my life. I'd have liked it to go a step further but he's not having it.’
      • ‘Fitzgerald paid tribute to Iris Royal, describing him as ‘an absolute legend’.’
      • ‘Cllr Willie Aird was of the opinion that it was ‘an absolute disgrace’.’
      • ‘It would be an absolute shame if my one opinion piece was the last word on identity.’
      • ‘And considering what he says is funny to begin with, you can be damn sure that the end result is absolute gold.’
      • ‘The game should be an absolute cracker and a real insight into the betting for the finals.’
      • ‘But union leaders said the service was being hit by an act of vandalism and branded the plans folly and an absolute disgrace.’
      • ‘And that is not just my opinion, it's an absolute statement of fact.’
      • ‘The site at the present time is an absolute disgrace and any development can only enhance the property and the village.’
      • ‘See, with property investment, you can be an absolute moron and you can still make money.’
      definite, certain, positive, unconditional, categorical, unquestionable, undoubted, unequivocal, decisive, conclusive, confirmed, manifest, infallible
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    2. 1.2 (of powers or rights) not subject to any limitation; unconditional.
      ‘no one dared challenge her absolute authority’
      ‘human right to life is absolute’
      • ‘The Government did that in this case, and it has an absolute right to do so.’
      • ‘Both rights are crucial in a democratic society, but neither is an absolute right.’
      • ‘If a member feels that there is a point to be made, he or she has an absolute right to take a point of order, and you as the Assistant Speaker have an obligation to rule as to whether it is right.’
      • ‘While presidents have the absolute right to nominate, it cannot be guaranteed that the Senate will consent.’
      • ‘Despite what is written down in treaties and conventions and the laws of individual countries, even when they are generally upheld, rights are never absolute even in the most democratic societies.’
      • ‘They claimed the right to conduct one's own defence is not an absolute right and they were withdrawing it because of his bad health and its affect on his ability to question witnesses.’
      • ‘It was not an absolute right but any limitation of it had to be justified on reasonable grounds.’
      • ‘The rhetoric of human rights holds that rights are absolute - but the application of human rights legislation assumes that rights are negotiable.’
      • ‘Corporations thus acquire absolute rights without responsibility, and citizens and the state carry all the responsibilities without the corresponding rights.’
      • ‘It is, however, not an absolute right and is subject to reasonable limitations.’
      • ‘If rights were absolute, there would be no question of weighing them against ‘interests’ to determine when the rights must yield.’
      • ‘Who was it that said, ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’’
      • ‘Under that bill, the Government has allowed Maori to have absolute veto over coastal areas, right out to the territorial limit, where ancestral connection is established.’
      • ‘On the other hand, absolute ethics are by definition unchangeable.’
      • ‘But local authorities will still have the absolute right to refuse to issue licenses.’
      • ‘It has been argued that some human rights are absolute, while others are not.’
      • ‘They would accept a coalition as a step toward absolute power but had no intention whatsoever of sharing power in a liberal democratic state.’
      • ‘The sense of hearing gives Kant, according to Derrida, expression through an absolute interiority.’
      • ‘This prompts Hume to fulminate on the absolute right to free speech - even if that means listening to people denying the Holocaust or insisting the earth is flat.’
      • ‘He could do this because of PR - the Liberals have an absolute veto over Labour policy and the power of blackmail on their own policy.’
      • ‘They had scored a major victory for small states, maintaining an absolute right of veto on tax issues and ensuring equal treatment for all countries on the European Commission.’
      • ‘Constitutional Court president Judge Arthur Chaskalson once warned that rights are never absolute and that press freedom is no exception.’
      unlimited, unrestricted, unrestrained, unbounded, unbound, boundless, infinite, ultimate, total, supreme, unconditional, full, utter, sovereign, omnipotent
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    3. 1.3 (of a ruler) having unrestricted power.
      ‘he proclaimed himself absolute monarch’
      • ‘One reason why absolute monarchs in Europe in the seventeenth century required large standing armies was to defend their extensive borders.’
      • ‘Philip had his advisors but he ruled as an absolute ruler and he was a firm believer in the divine right of kings - that God had appointed him as king and that as God could not make a mistake neither could Philip.’
      • ‘Catherine had innumerable lovers and did not find it contradictory to her enlightenment that she ruled Russia as an absolute autocrat.’
      • ‘Cottret argues, for example, against the common characterization of Calvin as absolute ruler of Geneva.’
      • ‘They accepted, in other words, that the king of France was an absolute monarch who shared his power with nobody, and was only answerable to God for its exercise.’
      • ‘This is not to say that the good leader is an absolute autocrat.’
      • ‘Sooner or later, even the most absolute monarchs or dictators would feel the need to confirm their right to power with a show of popular endorsement.’
      • ‘The idea of an absolute monarch, imbued with the idea of his royal superiority, being disobeyed by his daughters and cast out into the cold, who comes to question the justice of his rule, was heady stuff.’
      • ‘Spain was ruled by an absolute monarch and was dominated by the church, whose Inquisition was still proscribing books and works of art.’
      • ‘King and Queen were absolute monarchs, yet fallibly human.’
      • ‘Captain Arthur Phillip, first governor of NSW, was practically the absolute ruler of the penal settlement.’
      • ‘He would govern in the interests of the people as an enlightened but absolute ruler.’
      • ‘We have to remember that territorial states in early modern Europe were governed by absolute monarchs who regarded the state as their property.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, even absolute monarchs or totalitarian dictators are constrained by forces beyond their control.’
      • ‘The sceptics of antiquity lived under the rule of absolute emperors; those of the Renaissance under absolutist monarchs.’
      • ‘George II was the absolute ruler of a medium-sized German state, Hanover, as well as being the British sovereign.’
      • ‘Under the Australian constitution, drawn up in 1901, the governor-general has the powers of an absolute dictator.’
      • ‘A great character: he's portrayed as being benign, a dictator, absolute ruler, yes, but beloved by his people.’
      • ‘The old medieval concept of an absolute ruler imbued with divine authority was being challenged by the shifting economic reality and the monarchy was constantly being called on to justify itself.’
      • ‘The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a constitution was promulgated in 1911.’
      autocratic, despotic, dictatorial, tyrannical, tyrannous, authoritarian, arbitrary, imperious, domineering, high-handed, draconian, autonomous, sovereign, autarchic, autarchical, anti-democratic
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    4. 1.4Law (of a decree) final.
      ‘the decree of nullity was made absolute’
      • ‘It prevents the bank from paying the money to its customer until the garnishee order is made absolute, or is discharged, as the case may be.’
      • ‘Microsoft said that would not do and it should have an absolute injunction, both as regards copyright and trade marks.’
      • ‘The garnishee order nisi was not made absolute and the proceedings founded on it were stayed.’
      • ‘What I submitted, and I would like to just clarify it, is that you cannot make an order nisi absolute, in my submission.’
      • ‘But at page 253 Justice Sheller proposed an order making absolute the order nisi for certiorari.’
    5. 1.5Law
  • 2Viewed or existing independently and not in relation to other things; not relative or comparative.

    ‘absolute moral standards’
    • ‘But the real issue was not so much the absolute size of the increment, but rather what the others in the Center got relative to oneself.’
    • ‘What it means is that the star rating system is relative, not absolute.’
    • ‘The right will no doubt point out that this is a comparison of relative, rather than absolute poverty.’
    • ‘However, a useful estimate of the excess risk of a major extracranial bleed may be obtained indirectly by applying the proportional increase of about one half to the absolute risk of bleeding in that category of patients.’
    • ‘The New York Daily News was similarly unimpressed, writing that ‘the real problem is its absolute absence of energy’.’
    • ‘Relative to 2000, absolute room rates and occupancy levels have not declined by as much as in the London market.’
    • ‘All wheat parameters we studied were unresponsive to blue light, so comparisons between relative and absolute blue light responses are not meaningful.’
    • ‘Should we seek absolute standards or more relative assessments of performance in an imperfect world?’
    • ‘It also allowed us to measure absolute differences in bleeding risks, which are essential for determining clinical relevance.’
    • ‘It seems to me that what is really important in the recent poll figures on the New Hampshire primary is not the absolute numbers or the relative placing, but the graph of movement.’
    • ‘The European politicians who pushed it care less about absolute prosperity than relative prosperity.’
    • ‘By this, we mean that even low rates of GNP growth can imply very big increases in the absolute level of real GNP over time.’
    • ‘Such awards seem excessive both by absolute standards and by comparison with losers in the litigation lottery, who get nothing.’
    • ‘The evidence thus suggests that if income affects happiness, it is relative, not absolute, income that matters.’
    • ‘But many economists believe that relative poverty rather than absolute standards is what matters.’
    • ‘Nowadays Butler appears to confound normative ideals with something more absolute.’
    • ‘None of my opinions or misunderstandings work in absolute terms.’
    • ‘There is a problem when governments try to impose their absolute moral standards on the whole of society, without taking into account people's individual circumstances.’
    • ‘Recently, however, informed opinion has shifted from an absolute contraindication to a cautious recommendation for the combination.’
    • ‘At 18 times historical earnings the FTSE, in my opinion, is still cheap in absolute terms.’
    universal, fixed, independent, non-relative, non-variable, absolutist
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  • 3Grammar
    (of a construction) syntactically independent of the rest of the sentence, as in.

    ‘dinner being over, we left the table’
    • ‘An absolute clause is not introduced by a subordinating conjunction: after having prepared the dinner and while preparing the dinner are not absolute clauses.’
    1. 3.1 (of a transitive verb) used without an expressed object (e.g. guns kill).
      • ‘Verbs grouped as absolute, relative, or nounal.’
      • ‘I grouped them as absolute verbs, relative verbs, and nounal verbs.’
    2. 3.2 (of an adjective) used without an expressed noun (e.g. the brave).
      • ‘Though indefinite by default, the absolute quantifiers can be rendered definite through the use of a definite determiner.’


  • 1A value or principle which is regarded as universally valid or which may be viewed without relation to other things.

    ‘good and evil are presented as absolutes’
    • ‘The value and rightness of knowledge are not empirical absolutes, and the benefit of truth does not fit everyone the same.’
    • ‘I don't believe in absolutes but I do believe in an idea that is agreed as wrong within a society.’
    • ‘As in the abortion debate, a little awareness of ethics will make us mistrustful of sound-bite-sized absolutes.’
    • ‘Their virtue is made of sterner stuff: principles, absolutes, black and white stuff that doesn't admit of any kind of grey.’
    • ‘Principles are not absolutes, but have to be given a weight.’
    1. 1.1the absolute Something that exists without being dependent on anything else.
      • ‘To do this we need to acknowledge the Sovereignty of God - the absolute by which we measure the images that are being constructed.’
      • ‘Art must have a conscience - it should not fear the absolute.’
      • ‘Apparently, the word is out that anyone who wants less than the absolute must want no protections whatsoever.’
      • ‘The order of reason accepts that the world is the realm of the relative; the order of prophecy imposes upon the world the pattern of the absolute.’
      • ‘Christianity outdoes post-modernism by providing both a new approach to life and the absolute by which to measure it.’
      • ‘The devotees sing bhajans, chant incantations, and priests perform aarti and puja, invoking the blessings of Shiva, the divine, the pure, the absolute.’
      • ‘To assert that this generation is in contact with the absolute: all who came before were mistaken, all whom come after merely inheritors is hubris is it not?’
      • ‘The impulse slows across the ER Bridge, light brought to law by zero in the absolute and we may leave by any ship to hit the islands of the open ocean.’
      • ‘Chittamatra, or Mind-Only school, presents a threefold classification of reality as the imaginary, the dependent and the absolute.’
    2. 1.2the absolute Ultimate reality; God.
      • ‘It is through vipassana that one can attain Nirvana, the Absolute or the Goal of Buddhism.’
      • ‘In the Paradiso Dante experiences the mystery of the Absolute firsthand, and thereby finds it certain and everlasting.’
      • ‘The way to lead our lives is therefore along the path of pragmatic compromise, cynical wisdom, awareness of our limitations, resistance to the temptation of the Absolute.’
      • ‘This is the full realization of divinity, gently fading into the Absolute in one eternal moment.’
      • ‘However, one point must be made clear; this Shakti or God the Mother is not distinct from Shiva, the Absolute.’
      • ‘Harmonizing the aspects of the Ruach around the Sun prepares the aspirant for the leap into the Abyss, where all knowledge is challenged and shown as simply a facet, or a reflection, of the Absolute.’
      • ‘According to Ayurveda, like all Indian philosophies, the purpose of life is attaining salvation or unity of the soul with the Absolute.’
      • ‘Creation, God, the Absolute - it's all the emergent totality of an infinite dynamic process.’
      • ‘The idea of privation - of the diminishing of the plenitude of the Absolute was an important theme in Plotinus's Neoplatonism.’
      • ‘The saddhu or enlightened Hindu masters are taken care of, even deified, so that they may continue to apprehend the Absolute and astonish us mere mortals with their insights.’
      • ‘This path also includes Daath, the ultimate balance between the Absolute and Creation.’
      • ‘True fulfillment and joy lies in reestablishing this connection with the Absolute, which is the origin of all Reality.’
      • ‘It is to be worshipped for the attainment of union with the Absolute.’
      • ‘Ignorance and knowledge are conceptions in this world of duality, but in the Absolute there is no duality.’
      • ‘The Universal Community, which possessed truth in its totality, became for Royce a viable alternative to the Absolute.’
      • ‘According to the absolute idealists, the world is one gigantic mind, or - to put it more impressively - the Absolute is experience.’
      • ‘To paraphrase Crowley, interpret every event as a dealing of the Infinite with your Soul, a communication from the Absolute.’
      • ‘The identity which underlies all difference, including the fundamental difference between nature and spirit, he calls the Absolute.’
      • ‘Left wing Hegelians associated the Absolute with material reality.’
      • ‘Die here, in the embrace of Mother Ganga, in Shiva's sacred city, and your spirit will be united with the Absolute, will find its longed-for, eternal, perfect, peace.’


Late Middle English: from Latin absolutus ‘freed, unrestricted’, past participle of absolvere (see absolve).