/ ˈrelətɪv; NAmE / adjective , noun
■ adjective ( formal )
considered and judged by being compared with sth else :
the relative merits of the two plans
relative (to sth) considered according to its position or connection with sth else :
the position of the sun relative to the earth
[ only before noun ] that exists or that has a particular quality only when compared with sth else
SYN comparative :
They now live in relative comfort (= compared with how they lived before) .
Given the failure of the previous plan, this turned out to be a relative success.
It's all relative though, isn't it? We never had any money when I was a kid and $500 was a fortune to us.
relative to sth ( formal ) having a connection with sth; referring to sth :
the facts relative to the case
( grammar ) referring to an earlier noun, sentence or part of a sentence :
In 'the man who came', 'who' is a relative pronoun and 'who came' is a relative clause .
a person who is in the same family as sb else
SYN relation :
a close / distant relative
her friends and relatives
a thing that belongs to the same group as sth else :
The ibex is a distant relative of the mountain goat.
late Middle English : from Old French relatif , -ive , from late Latin relativus having reference or relation, from the verb referre carry back, from re- back + ferre bring.