Meaning of RELATIVE in English

/ 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.

—compare absolute


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 .

■ noun


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.

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.