Definition of qualitative in US English:



  • 1Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity.

    ‘a qualitative change in the undergraduate curriculum’
    Often contrasted with quantitative
    • ‘In other words, there are qualitative differences in places; some are sacred, some are not.’
    • ‘Samson's is one of the best demonstrations that I have seen in a while of the value of long term, qualitative, and local research.’
    • ‘Four reports clearly described the use of qualitative research methods.’
    • ‘The value of qualitative methods in researching patient attitudes is well recognised.’
    • ‘This study was the first qualitative inquiry to describe and explain this type of phenomenon.’
    • ‘The qualitative data collected illustrate the personal importance of these improvements to participants.’
    • ‘In such a system there is no room for qualitative differences in people, their constitutions or the food products themselves.’
    • ‘In essence, this student was required to defend the choice of a qualitative paradigm.’
    • ‘This, I believe, is indicative of a qualitative shift in the debate on reform.’
    • ‘This conference marked a qualitative step forward compared with the first solidarity conference four years ago.’
    • ‘Our systematic review provides an updated and elaborated qualitative analysis of available such trials.’
    • ‘Is there a qualitative difference in our relationship compared to that of the Germans and French?’
    • ‘Such a sense is qualitative rather than quantitative, specific rather than general.’
    • ‘The difference between God and man must be qualitative, not merely quantitative.’
    • ‘One way forward is to use qualitative measures of protection, a proposal that has been made previously.’
    • ‘Yet this is in many ways a quantitative rather than a qualitative distinction.’
    • ‘It not only compares the amount of knowledge they have but also deals with qualitative aspects of their lexical knowledge.’
    • ‘Girls in the qualitative study reported more troubled and unstable families than boys.’
    • ‘The majority of studies rely on survey research alone and there appears to be little qualitative work.’
    • ‘The tendency to demand purely qualitative descriptions of counterfactual situations has many sources.’
    1. 1.1Grammar (of an adjective) describing the quality of something in size, appearance, value, etc. Such adjectives can be submodified by words such as very and have comparative and superlative forms.
      Contrasted with classifying
      • ‘Only qualitative adjectives may be compared because only this type of adjective refers to qualities of objects which may vary in degrees.’
      • ‘The first drawback of using a handful of qualitative descriptive adjectives instead of numbers is that we are limited to just that, a handful, perhaps 5 or so, before it becomes hard to manage..’
      • ‘In this connection, the ability of an adjective to form degrees of comparison is usually taken as a formal sign of its qualitative character, in opposition to a relative adjective which is understood as incapable of forming degrees of comparison by definition.’


Late Middle English: from late Latin qualitativus, from Latin qualitas (see quality).