What does relative mean?

Definitions for relative
ˈrɛl ə tɪvrel·a·tive

Here are all the possible meanings 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.

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. Aaron Clark:

    Sentiment is clearly on edge and I think the market's move has been outsized, relative to actual changes in fundamentals, i think it's more of a growth scare which is getting magnified by the moves in financial markets.

  2. Elizabeth Dickinson:

    The UAE and Saudi Arabia have allied with distinct Yemeni partners ... Yet to this point in the conflict, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have worked to maintain a relative detente between competing interests in the south, that is the approach again today.

  3. Simon French:

    We know that the economics of happiness is largely driven by a relative assessment of your position versus your benchmark.

  4. Jim Jordan:

    There are a number of things that she said that are just false based on the investigation Mr. Comey conducted relative to her testimony under oath to us last October.

  5. Glass Lewis:

    We have strong concerns regarding pay outcomes relative to financial performance and investor outcomes in respect of the past fiscal year, in particular, we note that bonus payouts to the executive directors were at 100 percent of maximum opportunity despite the lacklustre overall performance during fiscal year 2015.

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:

Discuss these relative definitions with the community:



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


    "relative." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 8 Aug. 2022. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/relative>.

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

    Browse Definitions.net

    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!


    Are you a words master?

    the sport of traveling on a bicycle or motorcycle
    • A. guts
    • B. cycling
    • C. rateables
    • D. endeavor

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for relative: