Meaning of “negative” in the English Dictionary

"negative" in British English

See all translations


uk /ˈneɡ.ə.tɪv/ us /ˈneɡ.ə.t̬ɪv/

negative adjective (NO)

B2 expressing "no":

We received a negative answer to our request.

A2 A negative sentence or phrase is one that contains a word such as "not", "no", "never", or "nothing":

"I've never seen him in my life" is a negative sentence.
"Don't" and "do not" are negative forms of "do".

More examples

  • The negative reply to my complaint really irked me.
  • The negative reply dashed his spirits.
  • They gave a negative response to our request for help.

negative adjective (WITHOUT HOPE)

B1 not expecting good things, or likely to consider only the bad side of a situation:

a negative attitude
You're so negative about everything!

More examples

  • She used cognitive therapy on her client to try to inhibit those negative thoughts that were damaging his self-esteem.
  • Children's negative feelings often get acted out in bad behaviour.
  • There's no need to be so negative about things.
  • He's feeling very negative about his exams.
  • Why are you being so negative?
adverb uk /ˈneɡ.ə.tɪ us /ˈneɡ.ə.t̬ɪ



uk /ˈneɡ.ə.tɪv/ us /ˈneɡ.ə.t̬ɪv/

negative noun (BAD THING)

[ C ] a bad feature or characteristic:

He always looks for the negatives in any situation.


(Definition of “negative” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"negative" in American English

See all translations


negative adjective (NO)

us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ expressing no or not, or expressing refusal:

We received a negative answer to our request.

us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ A negative sentence or phrase is one that contains a word such as no, not, nor, never, or nothing.

us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ A medical test that is negative shows that you do not have that disease or condition.

negative adjective (NOT HAPPY)

us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ not happy, hopeful, or approving; tending to consider only bad things:

a negative attitude
All the candidates in the mayoral campaign ran negative ads (= advertising saying bad things about each other).

negative adjective (LESS THAN ZERO)

algebra us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ [ not gradable ] (of a number or amount) less than zero:

negative numbers

negative adjective (ART)

art /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ (of spaces and shapes in a painting, statue, drawing, etc.) empty, or lacking objects or other particular features; background

negative adjective (ELECTRICITY)

physics us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/ [ not gradable ] of the type of electrical charge that an electron has


us /ˈneɡ·ə·t̬ɪv/

negative noun (PHOTOGRAPH)

[ C ] a piece of film in which light areas appear dark and dark areas appear light, the opposite of how they will appear in the photograph made from it

negative noun (NO)

[ C/U ] a word, phrase, or statement that expresses no or not, or that expresses refusal:

[ U ] The governor replied in the affirmative (= The governor said no).

(Definition of “negative” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"negative" in Business English

See all translations


uk /ˈneɡətɪv/ us

bad or harmful:

Its profits rose as higher sales and cost cuts offset the negative impact of lower prices.
have a negative effect on sth This trade could eventually have a negative effect on the economy and prices.
Recognizing the costly effects of negative publicity, the company began to study the environmental impacts of its products.
negative aspects/consequences

expressing 'no':

a negative answer/response

emphasizing the bad possibilities in a situation:

be negative about sth Small and medium-size businesses were more negative about the economy than last year.
negative attitudes/comments/reactions

less than zero:

Employment growth was negative for manufacturing over the past year.
Medical bills strained the budget, and before long their checking account had a negative balance.


uk /ˈneɡətɪv/ us

[ C ] a bad characteristic, piece of news, etc.:

Traders see few negatives, saying hi-tech and telecoms shares will continue their rise.
answer/respond/reply in the negative

to give an answer of 'no':

Issuers that do not have a CUSIP number should answer Question 8 in the negative.

(Definition of “negative” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Blogs about "negative"