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[ab-suh ns] /ˈæb səns/
state of being away or not being present:
I acted as supervisor in his absence. Your absence was noted on the records.
period of being away:
an absence of several weeks.
failure to attend or appear when expected.
lack; deficiency:
the absence of proof.
inattentiveness; preoccupation; absent-mindedness:
absence of mind.
Origin of absence
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin absentia. See absent, -ia
1. presence. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for absence
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Milza was the first to observe that her absence was unusually protracted.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Then came that man, he filled her heart with illusions, and took her away in my absence.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Decidedly, Dick had been a godsend, and his absence would be a calamity.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • I should never have comfort but in his absence, or when I was quarreling with him.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • "I want leave of absence to-day, sir," he said, speaking hurriedly.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
British Dictionary definitions for absence


the state of being away
the time during which a person or thing is away
the fact of being without something; lack
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin absentia, from absēns a being away
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for absence

late 14c., from Old French absence (14c.), from Latin absentia, noun of state from absentem (nominative absens), present participle of abesse "be away from, be absent," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + esse "to be" (see essence).

Absence makes the heart grow fonder
[Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797-1839) "Isle of Beauty"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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absence in Medicine

absence ab·sence (āb'səns)
See petit mal.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with absence


In addition to the idiom beginning with absence also see: conspicuous by its absence
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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