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.

Origin of negative

1350–1400; < Latin negātīvus denying (see negate, -ive); replacing Middle English negatif (noun and adj.) < Middle French < Latin as above
Related formsneg·a·tive·ly, adverbneg·a·tive·ness, neg·a·tiv·i·ty, nounnon·neg·a·tiv·i·ty, nounqua·si-neg·a·tive, adjectivequa·si-neg·a·tive·ly, adverb

Synonyms for negative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for negative

Contemporary Examples of negative

Historical Examples of negative

British Dictionary definitions for negative



expressing or meaning a refusal or deniala negative answer
lacking positive or affirmative qualities, such as enthusiasm, interest, or optimism
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
biology indicating movement or growth away from a particular stimulusnegative geotropism
med (of the results of a diagnostic test) indicating absence of the disease or condition for which the test was made
  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
short for electronegative
of or relating to a photographic negative
logic (of a categorial proposition) denying the satisfaction by the subject of the predicate, as in some men are irrational; no pigs have wings
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
short for Rh negative


a statement or act of denial, refusal, or negation
a negative person or thing
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
physics a negative object, such as a terminal or a plate in a voltaic cell
a sentence or other linguistic element with a negative meaning, as the English word not
a quantity less than zero or a quantity to be subtracted
logic a negative proposition
archaic the right of veto
in the negative indicating denial or refusal

sentence substitute

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

verb (tr)

to deny or nullify; negate
to show to be false; disprove
to refuse to consent to or approve ofthe proposal was negatived
Derived Formsnegatively, adverbnegativeness or negativity, 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 negative

c.1400, "expressing denial," from Old French negatif (13c.) and directly from Latin negativus "that which denies," from negat-, past participle stem of negare "deny, say no" (see deny). Meaning "expressing negation" is from c.1500; that of "characterized by absence" is from 1560s. Algebraic sense is from 1670s. The electricity sense is from 1755.

Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. [John Keats, letter, Dec. 21, 1817]

Related: Negatively.


late 14c., "a prohibition; absence, nonexistence; opposite," from Old French negatif and directly from Latin negativus (see negative (adj.)). Meaning "a negative statement" is from 1560s. As a response, "I refuse, disagree, no," from 1945. Meaning "a negative quality" is from 1640s. In mathematics, "a negative number," from 1706. Photographic sense first recorded 1853.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for negative




Expressing, containing, or consisting of a negation, refusal, or denial.
Marked by failure of response or absence of a reaction.
Not indicating the presence of microorganisms, disease, or a specific condition.
Moving or turning away from a stimulus, such as light.
Relating to or designating an electric charge of the same sign as that of an electron.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for negative



Less than zero.
Having the electric charge or voltage less than zero.
Devoid of evidence of a suspected condition or disease, as a diagnostic test.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.