free from imperfection; complete; perfect:
absolute liberty.
not mixed or adulterated; pure:
absolute alcohol.
complete; outright:
an absolute lie; an absolute denial.
free from restriction or limitation; not limited in any way:
absolute command; absolute freedom.
unrestrained or unlimited by a constitution, counterbalancing group, etc., in the exercise of governmental power, especially when arbitrary or despotic:
an absolute monarch.
viewed independently; not comparative or relative; ultimate; intrinsic:
absolute knowledge.
positive; certain:
absolute in opinion; absolute evidence.

relatively independent syntactically. The construction It being Sunday in It being Sunday, the family went to church is an absolute construction.
(of a usually transitive verb) used without an object, as the verb give in The charity asked him to give.
(of an adjective) having its noun understood, not expressed, as poor in The poor are always with us.
characterizing the phonological form of a word or phrase occurring by itself, not influenced by surrounding forms, as not in is not (as opposed to isn’t), or will in they will (as opposed to they’ll).
Compare .


independent of arbitrary standards or of particular properties of substances or systems:
absolute humidity.
pertaining to a system of units, as the centimeter-gram-second system, based on some primary units, especially units of length, mass, and time.
pertaining to a measurement based on an or unit:
absolute temperature.

Education. noting or pertaining to the scale of a grading system based on an individual’s performance considered as representing his or her knowledge of a given subject regardless of the performance of others in a group:
The math department marks on an absolute scale.
Compare (def 10).
Climatology. noting or pertaining to the highest or lowest value of a meteorological quantity recorded during a given, usually long, period of time:
absolute maximum temperature.
Mathematics. (of an inequality) indicating that the expression is true for all values of the variable, as x 2 + 1 > 0 for all real numbers x; unconditional.
Compare (def 4).
Computers. machine-specific and requiring no translation (opposed to ):
absolute coding; absolute address.
something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature, size, etc. (opposed to ).
the absolute.

something that is free from any restriction or condition.
something that is independent of some or all relations.
something that is perfect or complete.
(in Hegelianism) the world process operating in accordance with the absolute idea.

Contemporary Examples

But I’m going to take you at your word and assume that those claims are absolutes.
Two Good Questions from Readers Michael Tomasky August 29, 2012

In our society we want to believe in the absolutes of what is right and what is wrong.
Can Victims of Haley Barbour’s Pardoned Murderer Find Justice? Randy Walker February 10, 2012

Even those with the most well-trained palates cannot speak in absolutes.
The Myth About Old Wine Keith Wallace January 25, 2010

Historical Examples

The ratio of exchange is relative, but there must be absolutes behind relations.
The Value of Money Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr.

Whosen is obviously the offspring of the other absolutes in n.
The American Language Henry L. Mencken

No breath from the class-rooms agitated by Einstein can shake his faith in these absolutes.
Painted Windows Harold Begbie

So by its very nature it belongs to the class of the absolutes.
Preaching and Paganism Albert Parker Fitch

He only concerns himself with absolutes—the eternal elements of human life and the immutable tides of human destiny.
Views and Reviews William Ernest Henley

As we have seen, he dealt in absolutes: either power was given to an unlimited extent or it was withheld altogether.
John Marshall and the Constitution Edward S. Corwin

In other words we act as if those principles were absolutes, whether we can justify it logically or not.
The Trial of Callista Blake Edgar Pangborn

complete; perfect
free from limitations, restrictions, or exceptions; unqualified: an absolute choice
having unlimited authority; despotic: an absolute ruler
undoubted; certain: the absolute truth
not dependent on, conditioned by, or relative to anything else; independent: an absolute term in logic, the absolute value of a quantity in physics
pure; unmixed: absolute alcohol
(of a grammatical construction) syntactically independent of the main clause, as for example the construction Joking apart in the sentence Joking apart, we’d better leave now
(grammar) (of a transitive verb) used without a direct object, as the verb intimidate in the sentence His intentions are good, but his rough manner tends to intimidate
(grammar) (of an adjective) used as a noun, as for instance young and aged in the sentence The young care little for the aged

(postpositive) (of a pressure measurement) not relative to atmospheric pressure: the pressure was 5 bar absolute Compare gauge (sense 18)
denoting absolute or thermodynamic temperature


(of a constant) never changing in value
Also numerical. (of an inequality) unconditional
(of a term) not containing a variable

(law) (of a court order or decree) coming into effect immediately and not liable to be modified; final See decree absolute
(law) (of a title to property, etc) not subject to any encumbrance or condition
something that is absolute
noun (sometimes not capital)

the ultimate basis of reality
that which is totally unconditioned, unrestricted, pure, perfect, or complete

(in the philosophy of Hegel) that towards which all things evolve dialectically

late 14c., “unrestricted; complete, perfect;” also “not relative to something else” (mid-15c.), from Middle French absolut (14c., Old French asolu, Modern French absolu), from Latin absolutus, past participle of absolvere “to set free, make separate” (see absolve).

Most of the current senses also were in the Latin word. Sense evolution was “detached, disengaged,” thus “perfect, pure.” Meaning “despotic” (1610s) is from notion of “absolute in position.” Absolute monarchy is recorded from 1735 (absolute king is recorded from 1610s); scientific absolute magnitude (1902), absolute value (1907) are from early 20c. In metaphysics, the absolute “that which is absolute” is from 1809.


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