What does relative mean?

Definitions for relative
ˈrɛl ə tɪvrel·a·tive

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word relative.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. relative, relationnoun

    a person related by blood or marriage

    "police are searching for relatives of the deceased"; "he has distant relations back in New Jersey"

  2. relative, congener, congenator, congenericadjective

    an animal or plant that bears a relationship to another (as related by common descent or by membership in the same genus)

  3. relative, comparativeadjective

    estimated by comparison; not absolute or complete

    "a relative stranger"

  4. proportional, relativeadjective

    properly related in size or degree or other measurable characteristics; usually followed by `to'

    "the punishment ought to be proportional to the crime"; "earnings relative to production"


  1. relativenoun

    Someone in the same family; someone connected by blood, marriage, or adoption.

  2. relativeadjective

    Relevant; pertinent

  3. relativeadjective

    Connected to or depending on something else; not absolute; comparative.

  4. relativeadjective

    That relates to an antecedent

  5. relativeadjective

    Having the same key but differing in being major or minor

  6. Etymology: From relativus, from relatus, perfect passive participle of refero, from re- + fero

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Relativeadjective

    Etymology: relativus, Lat. relatif, Fr.

    Not only simple ideas and substances, but modes are positive beings; though the parts of which they consist, are very often relative one to another. John Locke.

    The ecclesiastical, as well as the civil governour, has cause to pursue the same methods of confirming himself; the grounds of government being founded upon the same bottom of nature in both, though the circumstances and relative considerations of the persons may differ. South.

    Every thing sustains both an absolute and a relative capacity: an absolute, as it is such a thing, endued with such a nature; and a relative, as it is a part of the universe, and so stands in such relation to the whole. South.

    Wholesome and unwholesome are relative, not real qualities. John Arbuthnot, on Aliments.

    I’ll have grounds
    More relative than this. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

  2. Relativenoun

    ’Tis an evil dutifulness in friends and relatives, to suffer one to perish without reproof. Taylor.

    Learn the right joining of substantives with adjectives, and the relative with the antecedent. Roger Ascham, Schoolmaster.

    When the mind so considers one thing, that it sets it by another, and carries its view from one to the other, this is relation and respect; and the denominations given to positive things, intimating that respect, are relatives. John Locke.


  1. relative

    Relative is an adjective describing something existing or considered in relation to something else, depending on point of view or frame of reference. It can also be a noun referring to a person or thing connected with another by blood or marriage. They are considered in terms of comparative quantity, magnitude, or degree. In other words, it is something's importance, size, value etc. compared to other things.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Relativeadjective

    having relation or reference; referring; respecting; standing in connection; pertaining; as, arguments not relative to the subject

  2. Relativeadjective

    arising from relation; resulting from connection with, or reference to, something else; not absolute

  3. Relativeadjective

    indicating or expressing relation; refering to an antecedent; as, a relative pronoun

  4. Relativeadjective

    characterizing or pertaining to chords and keys, which, by reason of the identify of some of their tones, admit of a natural transition from one to the other

  5. Relativenoun

    one who, or that which, relates to, or is considered in its relation to, something else; a relative object or term; one of two object or term; one of two objects directly connected by any relation

  6. Relativenoun

    a person connected by blood or affinity; strictly, one allied by blood; a relation; a kinsman or kinswoman

  7. Relativenoun

    a relative pronoun; a word which relates to, or represents, another word or phrase, called its antecedent; as, the relatives "who", "which", "that"

  8. Etymology: [F. relatif, L. relativus. See Relate.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Relative

    rel′a-tiv, adj. having relation: respecting: not absolute or existing by itself: considered as belonging to something else: (gram.) expressing relation.—n. that which has relation to something else: a relation: (gram.) a pronoun which relates to something before, called its antecedent.—adj. Relatī′val (or Rel′atival).—adv. Rel′atively.—ns. Rel′ativeness, Relativ′ity.—Relativity of human knowledge, the doctrine that the nature and extent of our knowledge is determined not merely by the qualities of the objects known, but necessarily by the conditions of our cognitive powers.

The Standard Electrical Dictionary

  1. Relative

    Indicating the relation between two or more things without reference to absolute value of any one of them. Thus one lamp may be of relatively double resistance compared to another, but this states nothing of the resistance in ohms of either lamp.

Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

  1. relative

    The bearing of a target measured in the horizontal from the bow of one

Editors Contribution

  1. relative

    A person connected by marriage or form of family relationship.

    We are all family together on this planet united working to achieve human rights, sustainable development goals and shared prosperity for everyone.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 1, 2020  

  2. relative

    Being connected or related.

    The data received was relative to the understanding of what is currently occurring and we all understand what is required to be changed to ensure the output is changed.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 12, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'relative' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #2553

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'relative' in Nouns Frequency: #1223

  3. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'relative' in Adjectives Frequency: #342

How to pronounce relative?

How to say relative in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of relative in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of relative in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of relative in a Sentence

  1. Black Elk:

    Hear me, four quarters of the world - a relative I am Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you. With your power only can I face the winds.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis:

    Nearly all legislation involves a weighing of public needs as against private desires and likewise a weighing of relative social values.

  3. Philippe Bodereau:

    The banking sector's strong and improving credit fundamentals and the compelling absolute and relative valuations of bank hybrids should result in attractive long-term total returns for our clients, this strategy offers potentially higher risk-adjusted returns than equities and high-yield debt by capitalizing on opportunities created by relative value dislocations in the U.S. and in Europe.

  4. Virendra Chauhan:

    Inventories remain very, very high relative to the previous year and relative to the five-year norm.

  5. Henry David Thoreau:

    It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for relative

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for relative »


Find a translation for the relative definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"relative." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/relative>.

Discuss these relative definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for relative? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    irregularly slashed and jagged as if torn
    • A. lacerate
    • B. splay
    • C. sesquipedalian
    • D. valetudinarian

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for relative: