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[ab-suh-loot, ab-suh-loot] /ˈæb səˌlut, ˌæb səˈlut/
free from imperfection; complete; perfect:
absolute liberty.
not mixed or adulterated; pure:
absolute alcohol.
complete; outright:
an absolute lie; an absolute denial.
free from restriction or limitation; not limited in any way:
absolute command; absolute freedom.
unrestrained or unlimited by a constitution, counterbalancing group, etc., in the exercise of governmental power, especially when arbitrary or despotic:
an absolute monarch.
viewed independently; not comparative or relative; ultimate; intrinsic:
absolute knowledge.
positive; certain:
absolute in opinion; absolute evidence.
  1. relatively independent syntactically. The construction It being Sunday in It being Sunday, the family went to church is an absolute construction.
  2. (of a usually transitive verb) used without an object, as the verb give in The charity asked him to give.
  3. (of an adjective) having its noun understood, not expressed, as poor in The poor are always with us.
  4. characterizing the phonological form of a word or phrase occurring by itself, not influenced by surrounding forms, as not in is not (as opposed to isn't), or will in they will (as opposed to they'll).
    Compare sandhi.
  1. independent of arbitrary standards or of particular properties of substances or systems:
    absolute humidity.
  2. pertaining to a system of units, as the centimeter-gram-second system, based on some primary units, especially units of length, mass, and time.
  3. pertaining to a measurement based on an absolute zero or unit:
    absolute temperature.
Education. noting or pertaining to the scale of a grading system based on an individual's performance considered as representing his or her knowledge of a given subject regardless of the performance of others in a group:
The math department marks on an absolute scale.
Compare curve (def 10).
Climatology. noting or pertaining to the highest or lowest value of a meteorological quantity recorded during a given, usually long, period of time:
absolute maximum temperature.
Mathematics. (of an inequality) indicating that the expression is true for all values of the variable, as x 2 + 1 > 0 for all real numbers x; unconditional.
Compare conditional (def 4).
Computers. machine-specific and requiring no translation (opposed to symbolic):
absolute coding; absolute address.
something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature, size, etc. (opposed to relative).
the absolute.
  1. something that is free from any restriction or condition.
  2. something that is independent of some or all relations.
  3. something that is perfect or complete.
  4. (in Hegelianism) the world process operating in accordance with the absolute idea.
Origin of absolute
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin absolūtus free, unrestricted, unconditioned (past participle of absolvere to absolve), equivalent to ab- ab- + solū- loosen + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
absoluteness, noun
nonabsolute, adjective, noun
nonabsolutely, adverb
nonabsoluteness, noun
quasi-absolute, adjective
quasi-absolutely, adverb
subabsolute, adjective
2. unadulterated, sheer, unqualified, undiluted, uncontaminated. 4. total, unconditional. 5. autocratic, dictatorial, totalitarian. 6. categorical. 7. unequivocal, definite, sure.
1. imperfect, flawed. 2. mixed, diluted, contaminated. 4. qualified. 6. relative.
Synonym Study
4.Absolute, unqualified, utter all mean unmodified. Absolute implies an unquestionable finality: an absolute coward. Unqualified means without reservations or conditions: an unqualified success. Utter expresses totality or entirety: an utter failure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for absolute
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • absolute directness was a part of her nature; she could die, but not manouvre.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • It is there, not only with its help, but with its absolute knowledge of the right way for me to act.

  • What if their necessity of simulating it comes of its absolute necessity!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Though the right to live is absolute, it is not unconditional.

  • There is no good art, any more than there is good anything else in the absolute sense.

British Dictionary definitions for absolute


complete; perfect
free from limitations, restrictions, or exceptions; unqualified: an absolute choice
having unlimited authority; despotic: an absolute ruler
undoubted; certain: the absolute truth
not dependent on, conditioned by, or relative to anything else; independent: an absolute term in logic, the absolute value of a quantity in physics
pure; unmixed: absolute alcohol
(of a grammatical construction) syntactically independent of the main clause, as for example the construction Joking apart in the sentence Joking apart, we'd better leave now
(grammar) (of a transitive verb) used without a direct object, as the verb intimidate in the sentence His intentions are good, but his rough manner tends to intimidate
(grammar) (of an adjective) used as a noun, as for instance young and aged in the sentence The young care little for the aged
  1. (postpositive) (of a pressure measurement) not relative to atmospheric pressure: the pressure was 5 bar absolute Compare gauge (sense 18)
  2. denoting absolute or thermodynamic temperature
  1. (of a constant) never changing in value
  2. Also numerical. (of an inequality) unconditional
  3. (of a term) not containing a variable
(law) (of a court order or decree) coming into effect immediately and not liable to be modified; final See decree absolute
(law) (of a title to property, etc) not subject to any encumbrance or condition
something that is absolute
Word Origin
C14: from Latin absolūtus unconditional, freed from, from absolvere. See absolve


noun (sometimes not capital)
  1. the ultimate basis of reality
  2. that which is totally unconditioned, unrestricted, pure, perfect, or complete
(in the philosophy of Hegel) that towards which all things evolve dialectically
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 absolute

late 14c., "unrestricted; complete, perfect;" also "not relative to something else" (mid-15c.), from Middle French absolut (14c., Old French asolu, Modern French absolu), from Latin absolutus, past participle of absolvere "to set free, make separate" (see absolve).

Most of the current senses also were in the Latin word. Sense evolution was "detached, disengaged," thus "perfect, pure." Meaning "despotic" (1610s) is from notion of "absolute in position." Absolute monarchy is recorded from 1735 (absolute king is recorded from 1610s); scientific absolute magnitude (1902), absolute value (1907) are from early 20c. In metaphysics, the absolute "that which is absolute" is from 1809.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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