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[kuh m-par-uh-tiv] /kəmˈpær ə tɪv/
of or relating to comparison.
proceeding by, founded on, or using comparison as a method of study:
comparative anatomy.
estimated by comparison; not positive or absolute; relative:
a comparative newcomer in politics; to live in comparative luxury.
Grammar. being, noting, or pertaining to the intermediate degree of the comparison of adjectives, as better and more beautiful, the comparative forms of good and beautiful, and of adverbs, as nearer and more carefully, the comparative forms of near and carefully.
Compare positive (def 21), superlative (def 2).
noun, Grammar.
the comparative degree.
a form in the comparative.
Origin of comparative
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin comparātīvus, equivalent to comparāt(us) (past participle of comparāre to compare; see -ate1) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
comparatively, adverb
comparativeness, noun
Can be confused
comparable, comparative. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for comparative
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Garson contrived to present an aspect of comparative indifference.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The night duty had been a time of comparative peace to Carlotta.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • They shouted at each other in the jingle with comparative cheerfulness.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • To do this it will be necessary to refer to comparative ethnography.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • The comparative coolness of these rocks had served to revive him somewhat.

    Two Thousand Miles Below Charles Willard Diffin
British Dictionary definitions for comparative


denoting or involving comparison: comparative literature
judged by comparison; relative: a comparative loss of prestige
(grammar) denoting the form of an adjective that indicates that the quality denoted is possessed to a greater extent. In English the comparative form of an adjective is usually marked by the suffix -er or the word more Compare positive (sense 10), superlative (sense 2)
the comparative form of an adjective
Derived Forms
comparatively, adverb
comparativeness, noun
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 comparative

mid-15c., from Middle French comparatif, from Latin comparativus "pertaining to comparison," from comparat-, past participle stem of comparare (see comparison). Originally grammatical; general sense is from c.1600; meaning "involving different branches of a subject" is from 1670s. Related: Comparatively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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comparative in Culture

comparative definition

A form of an adjective indicating a greater degree of the quality that the adjective describes. Better is the comparative form of good; faster is the comparative form of fast; bluer is the comparative form of blue; more charming is the comparative form of charming. (Compare superlative.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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