American English

Definition of relative adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1considered and judged by being compared with something else the relative merits of the two plans
  2. 2relative (to something) considered according to its position or connection with something else the position of the sun relative to the earth
  3. 3[only before noun] that exists or that has a particular quality only when compared with something else synonym comparative They now live in relative comfort (= compared with how they lived before). Given the failure of the previous plan, this turned out to be a relative success. It's all relative, isn't it? We never had any money when I was a kid so $500 was a fortune to us. compare absolute
  4. 4relative to something (formal) having a connection with something; referring to something the facts relative to the case
  5. 5(grammar) referring to an earlier noun, sentence, or part of a sentence In “the man who came,” “who” is a relative pronoun and “who came” is a relative clause.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: relative