Definition of relativity in US English:

relativity

noun

  • 1The absence of standards of absolute and universal application.

    ‘moral relativity’
    • ‘These people constantly lecture the rest of us on being responsible for our actions, asserting that there's no relativity when it comes to good and evil.’
    • ‘The apparent relativity of the moral impulse is an illusion which is created by the mind for the mind's own purposes.’
    • ‘On the other hand, moral relativism asserts the relativity of morality.’
    • ‘Anthropologists have begun to question their previous views on the cultural relativity of emotional experience.’
    • ‘Having to resort to a cruel and unusual punishment adds a moral relativity that is profoundly provocative.’
    • ‘While we recognize the relativity of any system of beliefs, we do not want to give up on them all, lest we give up on the hope of changing the world.’
    • ‘But in an age of DVDs, where the film-makers come back to talk about how they did it, so the relativity of decision-making is growing all the while.’
    • ‘Thus, forms of moral relativism assert the relativity of moral values; forms of epistemological relativism assert the relativity of knowledge.’
    • ‘Welker claims his real concern is moral relativity.’
    • ‘Obviously, in the wake of postmodernism we are looking to build up new foundations for ourselves within the context of our newly-acquired radical consciousness of relativity.’
    • ‘This relativity does affect our attitudes towards age and life.’
    • ‘Ferran also raises issues about authenticity, authorship and confidentiality; Chien Chi about cultural relativity.’
    • ‘A response based on contemporary legal norms is unavoidable though the debate on cultural relativity and universality continues.’
    • ‘The late Herbert Stein essayed on the relativity of wealth in 1996 for the Journal editorial page in an article titled ‘Am I Better Off?’’
    • ‘This is a nostalgia for a different system of values, and its difference from Western moral attitudes serves to highlight the relativity of value systems in East and West, and Ralph's dilemma in striving to live by a hybrid of the two.’
    • ‘Heaped upon itself it becomes dangerously unstable, at some point reversing a fundamental theory of political relativity and becoming the one thing it should never be - the story itself.’
    • ‘Mr Cowen said the benchmarking system has rid the public sector of relativity clauses that had serious flaws allowing groups with no connections to argue for similar wage deals.’
    • ‘The world is relativity and relativity has limitations.’
    • ‘I definitely believe in a weak version of linguistic relativity.’
  • 2Physics
    The dependence of various physical phenomena on relative motion of the observer and the observed objects, especially regarding the nature and behavior of light, space, time, and gravity.

    The concept of relativity was set out in Einstein's special theory of relativity, published in 1905. This states that all motion is relative and that the velocity of light in a vacuum has a constant value that nothing can exceed. Among its consequences are the following: the mass of a body increases and its length (in the direction of motion) shortens as its speed increases; the time interval between two events occurring in a moving body appears greater to a stationary observer; and mass and energy are equivalent and interconvertible. Einstein's general theory of relativity, published in 1915, extended the theory to accelerated motion and gravitation, which was treated as a curvature of the space-time continuum. It predicted that light rays would be deflected and shifted in wavelength when passing through a substantial gravitational field, effects that have been experimentally confirmed

    • ‘Because there are things in the universe that exist or did exist that are very heavy, thus general relativity applies, but these things are also very compact and small, so quantum mechanics applies.’
    • ‘Penrose introduced the scope of modern physics and followed with a description of possible models of the universe based on criteria from the theory of relativity, including the effect of singularities.’
    • ‘According to general relativity, gravitational differences affect time by dilating it.’
    • ‘In 1922, the Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann predicted from general relativity that the universe should be expanding.’
    • ‘General relativity explains the behaviour of gravity and its effect on both matter and energy.’

Pronunciation

relativity

/ˌreləˈtivədē//ˌrɛləˈtɪvədi/