Meaning of RELATION in English

re ‧ la ‧ tion S2 W1 /rɪˈleɪʃ ə n/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ relation , relations, ↑ relationship , ↑ relative ; adjective : ↑ related ≠ ↑ unrelated , ↑ relative ; verb : ↑ relate ; adverb : ↑ relatively ]

1 . BETWEEN PEOPLE/COUNTRIES relations [plural]

a) official connections between countries, companies, organizations etc

relations with

Britain threatened to break off diplomatic relations with the regime.

relations between

Relations between the two countries have improved recently.

b) the way in which people or groups of people behave towards each other

relations between

Relations between workers and management are generally good.

⇨ ↑ public relations

2 . in relation to something formal

a) used to talk about something that is connected with or compared with the thing you are talking about:

Women’s earnings are still low in relation to men’s.

b) formal concerning:

latest developments in relation to the disease

3 . CONNECTION [uncountable and countable] a connection between two or more things SYN relationship

relation between

the relation between prices and wages

The price the meat is sold for bears no relation to (=is not connected to) the price the farmer receives.

4 . FAMILY [countable] a member of your family SYN relative :

We have relations in Canada and Scotland.

relation of/to

What relation are you to Jessica?

close/distant relation

Steve is a distant relation of my wife.

⇨ ↑ blood relation , ⇨ poor relation at ↑ poor (11)

5 . have (sexual) relations (with somebody) old-fashioned to have sex with someone

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + relations

▪ close

Many Japanese favor closer relations with the U.S.

▪ good

Relations between neighbours on the estate are very good.

▪ friendly

He had begun to establish friendly relations with his co-workers.

▪ race relations (=relations between people from different races who live in the same place)

New government measures aim to improve race relations in inner cities.

▪ industrial relations ( also labour relations British English , labor relations American English ) (=relations between managers and workers)

Good industrial relations are in everyone’s best interests.

▪ diplomatic relations ( also international/foreign relations ) (=official relations between two countries)

By then, Canada and Britain had established diplomatic relations with North Korea.


This visit was the President’s most important breakthrough in international relations.

▪ community relations (=relations between different groups in society)

Two police officers are responsible for community relations in the area.

■ verbs

▪ break off relations

After the incident, Croatia broke off all relations with Serbia.

▪ establish/develop relations

The company has tried to establish relations with several universities.

▪ maintain relations

The Indian government had sought to maintain good relations with China.

▪ restore/resume relations (=begin them again after they were stopped or interrupted)

Kenya and Uganda agreed to restore full diplomatic relations.

▪ improve relations

The government emphasized the need to improve relations with neighbouring countries.

▪ sour relations (=make them less friendly)

The dispute has soured relations between the two countries.

▪ enjoy good relations (=have good relations)

For years, the company enjoyed good relations with its workers

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 4)

■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + relation

▪ a close relation (=a brother, parent, aunt etc )

Many of her close relations live nearby.

▪ a distant relation

He was some distant relation of Pollitt’s wife.

▪ a blood relation (=one related by birth not marriage)

It seems natural to share a house with blood relations.

■ phrases

▪ a relation by marriage

She’s a relation by marriage because she married my cousin.

▪ friends and relations

We miss our friends and relations in the UK.

• • •


▪ relative a member of your family, especially one who does not live with you:

Most of her relatives were able to come to the wedding.


We have some distant relatives in Australia.

▪ relation a member of your family. Relation means the same as relative . It is often used when talking about whether someone is in the same family as another person:

Big cities can be lonely places if you have no friends or relations there.


‘What relation is she to you?’ ‘She’s my half sister.’


He’s no relation to the singer.

▪ descendant someone who is a family member of a person who lived and died a long time ago, for example the great-grandchild of that person:

The people are the descendants of slaves who were brought over from Africa.

▪ ancestor a member of your family who lived a long time ago, especially hundreds of years ago:

My ancestors originally came from Ireland.

▪ forefathers especially written people in your family who lived a long time ago - often used in historical descriptions:

His forefathers came to America over a century ago.

▪ extended family a family group that consists not only of parents and children, but also includes grandparents, aunts etc:

Extended families rarely live together in Britain, but they are still important.

▪ folks especially American English informal your family, especially your parents:

Are you going to see your folks at Christmas?

▪ next of kin the person or people who are most closely related to you, for example your husband or mother, and who need to be told if something serious happens to you:

The next of kin must be notified of his death before his name is released to the press.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.