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

Antonyms for absence

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for absence

Contemporary Examples of absence

Historical Examples of absence

  • Milza was the first to observe that her absence was unusually protracted.


    Lydia Maria Child

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


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Decidedly, Dick had been a godsend, and his absence would be a calamity.


    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.


    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 for absence

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

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

absence in Medicine




petit mal
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with absence


In addition to the idiom beginning with absence

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder

also see:

  • conspicuous by its absence
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.