[kuh m-par-uh-tiv]


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

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin comparātīvus, equivalent to comparāt(us) (past participle of comparāre to compare; see -ate1) + -īvus -ive
Related formscom·par·a·tive·ly, adverbcom·par·a·tive·ness, noun
Can be confusedcomparable comparative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for comparative

Contemporary Examples of comparative

Historical Examples of comparative

  • 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.


    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 comparisoncomparative literature
judged by comparison; relativea 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 moreCompare positive (def. 10), superlative (def. 2)


the comparative form of an adjective
Derived Formscomparatively, adverbcomparativeness, 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

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

comparative in Culture


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.