One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(of an action or state) marked by the absence, removal, or loss of some quality or attribute that is normally present.
- ‘Augustine developed two basic inceptions of evil, the privative and the aesthetic.’
- ‘Evil is merely privative, not absolute: it is like cold, which is the privation of heat.’
- ‘The good is given many names, amongst them euthymia or cheerfulness, as well as privative terms, e.g. for the absence of fear.’
- ‘We could adopt, I suppose, a privative theory of goodness, according to which every good consists in the absence of some corresponding evil.’
- ‘The passage might suggest, however, that privative time is just imaginary.’
- 1.1 (of a statement or term) denoting the absence or loss of an attribute or quality.‘the wording of the privative clause’
- ‘The privative clause boosts the validity of the decisions made by Refugee Tribunals and by decision-makers in my Department.’
- ‘He suggested that a privative clause expands the jurisdiction of a decision-maker.’
- ‘I do not think you can even grant such an order if the privative clause operates, can you?’
- ‘That is dependent on the validity of the privative provisions, is it not?’
- ‘His Honour refers to section 474, your Honour, which was the privative clause.’
- 1.2Grammar (of a particle or affix) expressing absence or negation, for example, the a- (from the alpha privative in Greek), meaning “not,” in atypical.
- ‘The privative and benefactive suffixes should have vowels (a and e) written with underdots.’
- ‘Has this "a" any connection with the alpha privative of the Indo-European tongues?’
A privative attribute, quality, or proposition.
- ‘But privative terms in their character of privatives admit of no subdivision.’
- ‘Yes, God created every Thing, Augustine insisted, but Evil is not a Thing, it is not a substance, it is a privative, a lack, a failure of the Good.’
- ‘An extended system can he used in the analysis of a number of affixes including privatives.’
Late 16th century: from Latin privativus ‘denoting privation’, from privat- ‘deprived’ (see privation).
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