View synonyms for negative


[ neg-uh-tiv ]


  1. expressing or containing negation or denial:

    a negative response to the question.

  2. refusing consent, as to a proposal:

    a negative reply to my request.

  3. expressing refusal to do something:

    He maintained a negative attitude about cooperating.

  4. prohibitory, as a command or order.
  5. characterized by the absence of distinguishing or marked qualities or features; lacking positive attributes ( positive ):

    a dull, lifeless, negative character.

  6. lacking in constructiveness, helpfulness, optimism, cooperativeness, or the like:

    a man of negative viewpoint.

    Synonyms: uncooperative, hostile, antagonistic

  7. encouraging or noting an unhealthy or unbalanced outlook toward something, especially toward sex or sexuality (used in combination):

    The song has a body-negative message.

  8. being without rewards, results, or effectiveness:

    a search of the premises proved negative.

  9. Mathematics, Physics.
    1. involving or noting subtraction; minus.
    2. measured or proceeding in the direction opposite to that which is considered as positive.
  10. Photography. noting an image in which the brightness values of the subject are reproduced so that the lightest areas are shown as the darkest.
  11. Electricity.
    1. of, relating to, or characterized by negative electricity.
    2. indicating a point in a circuit that has a lower potential than that of another point, the current flowing from the point of higher potential to the point of lower potential.
  12. Medicine/Medical.
    1. (of blood, affected tissue, etc.) failing to indicate the presence of a specified medical condition or substance.
    2. (of a diagnostic test) failing to indicate the presence of the medical condition or substance tested for:

      Test results for skin cancer were negative.

    3. (of a person) not having a specified medical condition, or not having a specified substance in the body (often used in combination): I'm Rh-negative.

      She tested negative for a staph infection.

      I'm Rh-negative.

  13. Chemistry. (of an element or group) tending to gain electrons and become negatively charged; acid.
  14. Physiology. responding in a direction away from the stimulus.
  15. of, relating to, or noting the south pole of a magnet.
  16. Logic. (of a proposition) denying the truth of the predicate with regard to the subject.


  1. a negative statement, answer, word, gesture, etc.:

    The ship signaled back a negative.

  2. a refusal of assent:

    to answer a request with a negative.

  3. the negative form of statement.
  4. a person or number of persons arguing against a resolution, statement, etc., especially a team upholding the negative side in a formal debate.
  5. a negative quality or characteristic.
  6. disadvantage; drawback:

    The plan is generally brilliant, but it has one or two negatives.

  7. a negative test result:

    Her test for the infection was a negative.

  8. Mathematics.
    1. a minus sign.
    2. a negative quantity or symbol.
  9. Photography. a negative image, as on a film, used chiefly for making positives.
  10. Electricity. the negative plate or element in a voltaic cell.
  11. Archaic. a veto, or right of veto:

    The delegation may exercise its negative.


  1. (used to indicate a negative response):

    “You won't come with us?” “Negative.”

verb (used with object)

, neg·a·tived, neg·a·tiv·ing.
  1. to deny; contradict.
  2. to refute or disprove (something).
  3. to refuse assent or consent to; veto.
  4. to neutralize or counteract.


  1. (used to indicate disagreement, denial of permission, etc.):

    Negative, pilot—complete your mission as directed.


/ ˈnɛɡətɪv /


  1. expressing or meaning a refusal or denial

    a negative answer

  2. lacking positive or affirmative qualities, such as enthusiasm, interest, or optimism
  3. showing or tending towards opposition or resistance
    1. measured in a direction opposite to that regarded as positive
    2. having the same magnitude but opposite sense to an equivalent positive quantity
  4. biology indicating movement or growth away from a particular stimulus

    negative geotropism

  5. med (of the results of a diagnostic test) indicating absence of the disease or condition for which the test was made
  6. another word for minus minus
  7. physics
    1. (of an electric charge) having the same polarity as the charge of an electron
    2. (of a body, system, ion, etc) having a negative electric charge; having an excess of electrons
    3. (of a point in an electric circuit) having a lower electrical potential than some other point with an assigned zero potential
  8. short for electronegative
  9. of or relating to a photographic negative
  10. logic (of a categorial proposition) denying the satisfaction by the subject of the predicate, as in some men are irrational; no pigs have wings
  11. astrology of, relating to, or governed by the signs of the zodiac of the earth and water classifications, which are thought to be associated with a receptive passive nature
  12. short for Rh negative


  1. a statement or act of denial, refusal, or negation
  2. a negative person or thing
  3. photog a piece of photographic film or a plate, previously exposed and developed, showing an image that, in black-and-white photography, has a reversal of tones. In colour photography the image is in complementary colours to the subject so that blue sky appears yellow, green grass appears purple, etc
  4. physics a negative object, such as a terminal or a plate in a voltaic cell
  5. a sentence or other linguistic element with a negative meaning, as the English word not
  6. a quantity less than zero or a quantity to be subtracted
  7. logic a negative proposition
  8. archaic.
    the right of veto
  9. in the negative
    indicating denial or refusal

sentence substitute

  1. (esp in military communications) a signal code word for no 1


  1. to deny or nullify; negate
  2. to show to be false; disprove
  3. to refuse to consent to or approve of

    the proposal was negatived


/ nĕgə-tĭv /

  1. Less than zero.
  2. Having the electric charge or voltage less than zero.
  3. Devoid of evidence of a suspected condition or disease, as a diagnostic test.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈnegatively, adverb
  • ˈnegativeness, noun

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Other Words From

  • nega·tive·ly adverb
  • nega·tive·ness nega·tivi·ty noun
  • nonneg·a·tivi·ty noun
  • quasi-nega·tive adjective
  • quasi-nega·tive·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of negative1

First recorded in 1350–1400; from Latin negātīvus “denying”; negate, -ive ; replacing Middle English negatif (noun and adjective), from Middle French, from Latin, as above

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. in the negative, in the form of a negative response, as a refusal, denial, or disagreement; no:

    The reply, when it finally came, was in the negative.

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Example Sentences

Attitudes toward China have turned negative in the past few years.

I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus.

This was a clue that the polio virus used in the vaccines might not have been fully inactivated as was intended even though the samples otherwise tested negative for live polio virus.

From Fortune

In an election year, and after dealing with many negative blows to its image, Facebook is trying to reestablish itself as the original social-media company, which in the case of Campus means turning back to its roots.

More than 70% of the posts were negative, while only 13% of the comments were positive.

From Fortune

Myerson herself appears to have bought into that stigma, offering mixed to negative views on the Miss America pageant.

I think part of being in the public eye is getting recognized, and dealing with positive and negative scrutiny.

In addition to the negative on-field attention, off-the-field problems were just as bad this year.

The negative headlines and accusations of sexual assault continue.

He says he has yet to experience any negative feedback from the galaxy of Whovians.

Before Louis could answer in the negative, he heard voices in the adjoining garden.

The great majority belong to the colon bacillus group, and are negative to Gram's method of staining.

This is a minute, slender rod, which lies within and between the pus-corpuscles (Fig. 125), and is negative to Gram's stain.

The organism is a short, thick diplobacillus, is frequently intracellular, and is Gram-negative (Fig. 126).

The press censorship is a negative evil in London; in Cairo there is no doubt it is positive.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




negationnegative amortization