See more synonyms for positive on Thesaurus.com
  1. explicitly stated, stipulated, or expressed: a positive acceptance of the agreement.
  2. admitting of no question: positive proof.
  3. stated; express; emphatic: a positive denial.
  4. confident in opinion or assertion; fully assured: He is positive that he will win the contest.
  5. overconfident or dogmatic: The less he knows, the more positive he gets.
  6. without relation to or comparison with other things; not relative or comparative; absolute.
  7. Informal. downright; out-and-out: She's a positive genius.
  8. determined by enactment or convention; arbitrarily laid down: positive law.
  9. emphasizing what is laudable, hopeful, or to the good; constructive: a positive attitude toward the future; positive things to say about a painting.
  10. encouraging or noting a healthy or balanced outlook toward something, especially toward sex and sexuality (used in combination):sex-positive attitudes;the body-positive movement;a gay-positive movie.
  11. not speculative or theoretical; practical: a positive approach to the problem.
  12. possessing an actual force, being, existence, etc.
  13. Philosophy.
    1. constructive and sure, rather than skeptical.
    2. concerned with or based on matters of experience: positive philosophy.
  14. showing or expressing approval or agreement; favorable: a positive reaction to the speech.
  15. consisting in or characterized by the presence or possession of distinguishing or marked qualities or features (opposed to negative): Light is positive, darkness negative.
  16. noting the presence of such qualities, as a term.
  17. measured or proceeding in a direction assumed as beneficial, progressive, or auspicious: a positive upturn in the stock market.
  18. Electricity.
    1. of, relating to, or characterized by positive electricity.
    2. indicating a point in a circuit that has a higher potential than that of another point, the current flowing from the point of higher potential to the point of lower potential.
  19. of, relating to, or noting the north pole of a magnet.
  20. Chemistry. (of an element or group) tending to lose electrons and become positively charged; basic.
  21. Grammar. being, noting, or pertaining to the initial degree of the comparison of adjectives and adverbs, as the positive form good.Compare comparative(def 4), superlative(def 2).
  22. Medicine/Medical.
    1. (of blood, affected tissue, etc.) indicating the presence of a specified medical condition or substance:Her urine was positive for opiates.
    2. (of a diagnostic test) indicating the presence of the medical condition or substance tested for:a positive test for tuberculosis.
    3. (of a person) diagnosed as having a specified medical condition, or having a specified substance in the body (often used in combination):He's HIV positive.She tested positive for lupus.
  23. Biochemistry. Rh factor.
  24. Mathematics. noting a quantity greater than zero.
  25. (of government) assuming control or regulation of activities beyond those involved merely with the maintenance of law and order.
  26. Biology. oriented or moving toward the focus of excitation: a positive tropism.
  27. Photography. denoting a print or transparency showing the brightness values as they are in the subject.
  28. Machinery. noting or pertaining to a process or machine part having a fixed or certain operation, especially as the result of elimination of play, free motion, etc.: positive lubrication.
  1. something positive.
  2. a positive quality or characteristic.
  3. a positive quantity or symbol.
  4. Grammar.
    1. the positive degree.
    2. a form in the positive, as good or smooth.
  5. Photography. a positive image, as on a print or transparency.

Origin of positive

1250–1300; < Latin positīvus; replacing Middle English positif < Middle French < Latin, as above. See posit, -ive
Related formspos·i·tive·ness, nouno·ver·pos·i·tive, adjectiveo·ver·pos·i·tive·ly, adverbo·ver·pos·i·tive·ness, nounqua·si-pos·i·tive, adjectivequa·si-pos·i·tive·ly, adverbsu·per·pos·i·tive, adjectivesu·per·pos·i·tive·ly, adverbsu·per·pos·i·tive·ness, nounun·pos·i·tive, adjectiveun·pos·i·tive·ly, adverbun·pos·i·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for positive

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Antonyms for positive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for positive

Contemporary Examples of positive

Historical Examples of positive

British Dictionary definitions for positive


  1. characterized by or expressing certainty or affirmationa positive answer
  2. composed of or possessing actual or specific qualities; reala positive benefit
  3. tending to emphasize what is good or laudable; constructivehe takes a very positive attitude when correcting pupils' mistakes
  4. tending towards progress or improvement; moving in a beneficial direction
  5. philosophy
    1. constructive rather than sceptical
    2. (of a concept) denoting the presence rather than the absence of some property
  6. independent of circumstances; absolute or unqualified
  7. (prenominal) informal (intensifier)a positive delight
  8. maths
    1. having a value greater than zeroa positive number
    2. designating, consisting of, or graduated in one or more quantities greater than zeropositive direction
  9. maths
    1. measured in a direction opposite to that regarded as negative
    2. having the same magnitude as but opposite sense to an equivalent negative quantity
  10. grammar denoting the usual form of an adjective as opposed to its comparative or superlative form
  11. biology indicating movement or growth towards a particular stimulus
  12. physics
    1. (of an electric charge) having an opposite polarity to the charge of an electron and the same polarity as the charge of a proton
    2. (of a body, system, ion, etc) having a positive electric charge; having a deficiency of electronsa positive ion
    3. (of a point in an electric circuit) having a higher electric potential than some other point with an assigned zero potential
  13. short for electropositive
  14. (of a lens) capable of causing convergence of a parallel beam of light
  15. med (of the results of an examination or test) indicating the existence or presence of a suspected disorder or pathogenic organism
  16. med (of the effect of a drug or therapeutic regimen) beneficial or satisfactory
  17. short for Rh positive
  18. (of a machine part) having precise motion with no hysteresis or backlash
  19. mainly US (of a government) directly involved in activities beyond the minimum maintenance of law and order, such as social welfare or the organization of scientific research
  20. economics of or denoting an analysis that is free of ethical, political, or value judgments
  21. astrology of, relating to, or governed by the group of signs of the zodiac that belong to the air and fire classifications, which are associated with a self-expressive spontaneous nature
  1. something that is positive
  2. maths a quantity greater than zero
  3. photog a print or slide showing a photographic image whose colours or tones correspond to those of the original subject
  4. grammar the positive degree of an adjective or adverb
  5. a positive object, such as a terminal or plate in a voltaic cell
  6. music
    1. Also called: positive organa medieval nonportable organ with one manual and no pedalsCompare portative organ
    2. a variant spelling of positif
Compare negative
Derived Formspositiveness or positivity, noun

Word Origin for positive

C13: from Late Latin positīvus positive, agreed on an arbitrary basis, from pōnere to place
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 positive

early 14c., originally a legal term meaning "formally laid down," from Old French positif (13c.) and directly from Latin positivus "settled by agreement, positive" (opposed to naturalis "natural"), from positus, past participle of ponere "put, place" (see position (n.)).

Sense of "absolute" is from mid-15c. Meaning in philosophy of "dealing only with facts" is from 1590s. Sense broadened to "expressed without qualification" (1590s), then "confident in opinion" (1660s); mathematical use is from 1704; in electricity, 1755. Psychological sense of "concentrating on what is constructive and good" is recorded from 1916.


1520s, from positive (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

positive in Medicine


  1. Characterized by or displaying certainty, acceptance, or affirmation.
  2. Indicating the presence of a particular disease, condition, or organism.
  3. Indicating or characterized by response or motion toward the source of a stimulus, such as light.
  4. Relating to or designating electric charge of a sign opposite to that of an electron.
Related formspos′i•tivi•ty n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

positive in Science


  1. Greater than zero.
  2. Having an electric charge or voltage greater than zero.
  3. Indicating the presence of a disease, condition, or organism, as a diagnostic test.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.