[ kuhm-par-uh-tiv ]
See synonyms for: comparativecomparatively on

  1. of or relating to comparison.

  2. proceeding by, founded on, or using comparison as a method of study: comparative anatomy.

  1. estimated by comparison; not positive or absolute; relative: a comparative newcomer in politics; to live in comparative luxury.

  2. 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).

  1. the comparative degree.

  2. a form in the comparative.

Origin of comparative

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin comparātīvus, equivalent to comparāt(us) (past participle of comparāre “to place together, match”; see compare, -ate1) + -īvus-ive

Other words from comparative

  • com·par·a·tive·ly, adverb
  • com·par·a·tive·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with comparative

Words Nearby comparative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use comparative in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for comparative


/ (kəmˈpærətɪv) /

  1. denoting or involving comparison: comparative literature

  2. judged by comparison; relative: a comparative loss of prestige

  1. 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 (def. 10), superlative (def. 2)

  1. the comparative form of an adjective

Derived forms of comparative

  • 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

Cultural definitions for comparative


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.