American English

Definition of positive adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1thinking about what is good in a situation; feeling confident and sure that something good will happen a positive attitude/outlook the power of positive thought positive (about something) She tried to be more positive about her new job. On the positive side, profits have increased. The report ended on a positive note. opposite negative
  2. effective/useful
  3. 2directed at dealing with something or producing a successful result We must take positive steps to deal with the problem. It will require positive action by all in the industry. opposite negative
  4. 3expressing agreement or support We've had a very positive response to the idea. opposite negative
  5. 4good or useful to make a positive contribution to a discussion His family has been a very positive influence on him. Overseas investment has had a positive effect on exports. opposite negative
  6. sure/definite
  7. 5[not before noun] (of a person) completely sure that something is correct or true positive (about something) I can't be positive about what time it happened. positive (that…) She was positive that he had been there. “Are you sure?” “Positive.” Thesaurussureconfident convinced certain positive clearThese words all describe someone who knows without doubt that something is true or will happen.sure [not before noun] without any doubt that you are right, that something is true, that you will get something, or that something will happen:I'm not sure whether John is coming or not. Are you sure about that? The Orioles are sure to win this weekend. Sure is often used in negative statements and questions, because there is some doubt or anxiety over the matter. If there is no doubt, people often use know:I know (that) I left my bag here (= I have no doubt about it).confident completely sure that something will happen in the way that you want or expect:I'm confident that you'll get the job. The team is confident that they will win. Confident is a stronger and more definite word than sure and is more often used in positive statements, when you feel no anxiety.convinced [not before noun] completely sure that something is true or right, especially because the evidence seems to prove it or someone else has persuaded you to believe it:I'm convinced that she's innocent.certain [not usually before noun] sure that you are right or that something is true:Are you absolutely certain about this?sure or certain?Like sure, certain is often used in negative statements and questions. It is slightly more formal than sure;sure is more frequent, especially in spoken English.positive [not before noun] (somewhat informal) completely sure that something is true:She was positive that he'd been there. “Are you sure?” “Positive.”clear (often used in negative statements and questions) having no doubt or confusion about something:I'm still not clear what the job involves.Patterns sure/confident/convinced/certain/positive/clear about something sure/confident/convinced/certain of something sure/confident/convinced/certain/positive/clear that… not sure/certain/clear >who/what/how>, etc. to feel sure/confident/convinced/certain/positive quite/absolutely/completely/fairly/pretty sure/confident/convinced/certain/positive/clear not altogether sure/confident/convinced/certain/clear
  8. 6[only before noun] (informal) complete and definite synonym absolute He has a positive genius for upsetting people. It was a positive miracle that we survived.
  9. 7giving clear and definite proof or information synonym conclusive We have no positive evidence that she was involved. (formal) This is proof positive that he stole the money.
  10. scientific test
  11. 8showing clear evidence that a particular substance or medical condition is present a positive pregnancy test The athlete tested positive for steroids. to be HIV positive opposite negative
  12. number/quantity
  13. 9greater than zero opposite negative
  14. electricity
  15. 10(technology) containing or producing the type of electricity that is carried by a proton a positive charge the positive terminal of a battery opposite negative
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: positive