Meaning of “relative” in the English Dictionary

"relative" in English

See all translations

relativenoun [ C ]

uk /ˈrel.ə.tɪv/ us /ˈrel.ə.t̬ɪv/

B1 a member of your family:

I don't have many blood relatives (= people related to me by birth rather than by marriage).
All her close/distant relatives came to the wedding.

More examples


uk /ˈrel.ə.tɪv/ us /ˈrel.ə.t̬ɪv/ formal

relative adjective (COMPARING)

C1 being judged or measured in comparison with something else:

We weighed up the relative advantages of driving there or going by train.

true to a particular degree when compared with other things:

Since I got a job, I've been living in relative comfort (= more comfort than before).

More examples

relative adjective (CONNECTED)

relative to

C2 If something is relative to something else, it changes according to the speed or level of the other thing:

The amount of petrol a car uses is relative to its speed.

If something is relative to a particular subject, it is connected with it:

Are these documents relative to the discussion?

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

"relative" in American English

See all translations

relativeadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈrel·ə·t̬ɪv/

relative adjective [ not gradable ] (COMPARED WITH)

as judged or measured in comparison with something else:

We considered the relative merits of flying to Washington or taking the train.
Relative to (= Considering) birthweight, the newborns were doing well.
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ˈrel·ə·t̬ɪv·li/

The stereo was relatively inexpensive.

relativenoun [ C ]

us /ˈrel·ə·t̬ɪv/

relative noun [ C ] (FAMILY)

a member of your family:

All her relatives came to the wedding.

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

"relative" in Business English

See all translations


uk /ˈrelətɪv/ us

having a particular characteristic or value compared to other things of a similar type:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer talked about the UK's relative growth performance compared with "core" Europe.
relative cost/price International borrowers have seen the relative cost of their loans rise slightly in the past six months.
a relative newcomer/unknown The firm is a relative newcomer to the world of futures trading.
relative to sth

compared to something else:

Official figures probably understate Europe's growth relative to America.
Pay in many white-collar jobs has been stagnating relative to inflation.
relative to earnings/income/sales Motoring costs are forecast to increase even further over the next ten years relative to income.
relative to sb's competitors/peers Steps taken now to address climate change can improve a company's competitive position relative to its peers.

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