Meaning of RELATIVE in English


I. ˈreləd.iv, -ətiv noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French relatif (adjective) or Late Latin relativus (adjective)

1. : a word (as a relative pronoun) referring grammatically to an antecedent

2. : a thing having a relation to or connection with or necessary dependence upon another thing : a being or object posited by virtue of its relations — opposed to absolute


a. : a person connected with another by blood or affinity ; especially : one allied by blood : relation , kinsman

gifts to friends and relatives

b. : an animal or plant related to another by common descent

teosinte, corn's closest relative — P.C.Mangelsdorf

4. : a relative term

using the relatives father and son instead of the absolutes man and boy

5. : one of two or more related chemical substances: as

a. : one of a group of chemical compounds derived from a common parent

b. : one of a series of isomeric compounds

6. : a statistical figure obtained by taking the value of a variable (as a price, a production total) for one time or place, dividing it by the value of the same variable for another time and place, and multiplying by 100

II. adjective

Etymology: Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French relatif, from Late Latin relativus, from Latin relatus (suppletive past participle of referre to carry back, refer, relate) + -ivus -ive — more at relate

1. : referring to an antecedent : introducing a subordinate clause qualifying an expressed or implied antecedent

a relative connective

also : introduced by a connective referring to an expressed or implied antecedent — see relative adjective , relative adverb , relative clause , relative pronoun


a. archaic : having mutual relation with each other : related , corresponding

several different yet relative designs — Nathaniel Hawthorne

b. : correlating with a right or duty of another : corresponding

relative rights of husband and wife

3. : having relation, reference, or application : pertaining, relevant , pertinent

matters relative to maintenance of international peace — Vera M. Dean

4. : arising from relation : resulting from or existing in connection with or reference to something else : not absolute or independent : comparative — distinguished from positive

relative velocity

relative value of dollars and pounds

relative isolation of life in the country

5. : having the same key signature — used of major and minor keys and scales

G major and E minor are relative keys

6. : expressed as the ratio of the specified quantity to the total magnitude or to the mean of all the quantities involved

relative constant error in measuring

relative probable error

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.