Definition of positive adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈpɒzətɪv//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpɑːzətɪv//
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  1. 1  thinking 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 See related entries: Confident
  2. effective/useful
  3. 2  directed 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. 3  expressing agreement or support We've had a very positive response to the idea. opposite negative
  5. 4  good or useful to make a positive contribution to a discussion His family have 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.’ Synonymssureconfident convinced certain positive clearThese words all describe somebody 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:‘Is that John over there?’ ‘I’m not sure.’ Are you sure about that? England must win this game to be sure of qualifying. 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 say quite sure:I’m quite sure (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 quite confident that you’ll get the job. The team feels confident of winning. 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 somebody 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] (rather 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:My memory isn’t really clear on that point.Patterns sure/​confident/​convinced/​certain/​positive/​clear about something sure/​confident/​convinced/​certain of something sure/​confident/​convinced/​certain/​positive/​clear that… 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. 7  giving 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. 8  showing 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(specialist) containing or producing the type of electricity that is carried by a proton a positive charge the positive terminal of a battery opposite negative
  16. Word Origin late Middle English: from Old French positif, -ive or Latin positivus, from posit- ‘placed’, from the verb ponere. The original sense referred to laws as being formally ‘laid down’, which led to the sense ‘explicitly laid down and admitting no question’, hence ‘certain’.Extra examples He sounded very positive about his chances. He tested positive for HIV. He took a highly positive view of the matter. I’m absolutely positive it was him. She seemed fairly positive about it. The test proved positive. Friendlier relations between the countries had a positive effect on exports. I can’t be positive about what time it happened. Local residents made a very positive contribution to the debate. Most of his remarks were positive, but there were a few criticisms. On the positive side, profits have increased. She was positive that he’d been there. The feedback from the public was very positive. Try to have a positive attitude. We got a very positive response to the idea. You should try to be a bit more positive about your students.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: positive