American English

Definition of equal adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1the same in size, quantity, value, etc. as something else There is an equal number of boys and girls in the class. two pieces of wood equal in length/of equal length equal to somebody/something One unit of alcohol is equal to one glass of wine. An area of forest equal to the size of Rhode Island has been destroyed. You can use exactly, precisely, approximately, etc. with equal in this meaning.
  2. 2having the same rights or being treated the same as other people, without differences such as race, religion, or sex being considered equal rights/pay The company is an equal opportunity employer (= gives the same chances of employment to everyone). the desire for a more equal society (= in which everyone has the same rights and chances) You can use more with equal in this meaning.
  3. 3equal to something (formal) having the necessary strength, courage, and ability to deal with something successfully I hope that he proves equal to the challenge. see also equally
  4. Idioms
    all/other things being equal
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    if the conditions stay the same; if other conditions are the same All things being equal, we should finish the job tomorrow.
    on equal terms (with somebody)
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    having the same advantages and disadvantages as someone else Can our industry compete on equal terms with its overseas rivals?
    some (people, members, etc.) are more equal than others (saying)
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    although the members of a society, group, etc. appear to be equal, some, in fact, get better treatment than others This phrase is used by one of the pigs in the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: equal