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relative
used in a sentence

3 meanings
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1  —as in:
the relative importance
Definition compared with something else (not an absolute value or not complete)
  • I am comparing the relative benefits of both proposals.
relative = compared with something else (in this case comparing the benefits of each proposal to the other rather than looking for some absolute benefit)
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • I feel poor compared to some of my classmates, but I know I am rich relative to most people in the world.
  • How does our cost and profit change relative to sales volume?
  • relative = compared (in this case looking at the changes in cost and profit at different levels of sales volume)
  • But despite the relative proximity of the bus to civilization, for all practical purposes McCandless was cut off from the rest of the world.
    Jon Krakauer  --  Into the Wild
  • relative = when compared to other things
  • Brinker, in his accelerating change from absolute to relative virtue, came up with plan after plan, each more insulated from the fighting than the last.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • relative = compared with something else
  • Jem said Mr. Avery misfigured, Dill said he must drink a gallon a day, and the ensuing contest to determine relative distances and respective prowess only made me feel left out again, as I was untalented in this area.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • relative = in comparison to each other
  • They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • relative = in comparison to each other
  • They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • relative = in comparison to each other
  • The concept of unity, in which positive and negative are attributes of the same force, in which good and evil are relative, ever-changing, and always joined to the same phenomenon—such a concept is still reserved to the physical sciences and to the few who have grasped the history of ideas.
    Arthur Miller  --  The Crucible
relative = not absolute attributes and therefore only meaningful in a context

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list — Onelook.com®
2  —as in:
they are relatives
Definition connected
in various senses, including:
  • a person related by blood or marriage — as in "The hospital won't let me visit her because I'm not a relative."
  • a plant or animal related by origin or grouping — "The closest relative of the dog is the gray wolf."
  • Police are searching for friends or relatives who might know something about her plans that night.
relatives = family members (related by blood or marriage)
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • I have relatives in California.
  • relatives = extended family members (related by blood or marriage)
  • She found a fossil of an early mammal relative that roamed the area 300 million years ago.
  • It stood, dark and threatening, over their shoulders night and day, for out of it Indian tribes marauded from time to time, and Reverend Parris had parishioners who had lost relatives to these heathen.
    Arthur Miller  --  The Crucible
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • He was also a distant relative of that other boy whose mulberry-marked face had not been seen since the evening of the great fire; but he was not old enough to understand this, and if he had been told that the other boy had gone home in an aircraft, he would have accepted the statement without fuss or disbelief.
    William Golding  --  Lord of the Flies
  • relative = a person related by blood or marriage
  • When a letter from home told me that a trip to visit relatives had been canceled because of gas rationing it was easy to visualize my father smiling silently with knowing eyes—at least as easy as it was to imagine an American force crawling through the jungles of a place called Guadalcanal—"Wherever that is," as Phineas said.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • -he just gets passed around from relative to relative, and Miss Rachel keeps him every summer.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • relative = a person related by blood or marriage
  • There were six bedrooms upstairs, four for the eight female children, one for Welcome Finch, the sole son, and one for visiting relatives.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • They ignore the reality that a new version of the same old problem will be waiting at the end of the trip—the relative you cringe to kiss.
    Markus Zusak  --  The Book Thief
  • relative = a person related by blood or marriage
  • The remainder of the afternoon went by in the gentle gloom that descends when relatives appear, but was dispelled when we heard a car turn in the driveway.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
relatives = people related by blood or marriage

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list — Onelook.com®
3  —as in:
questions relative to the topic
Definition related to
  • I have some additional questions relative to the issue we discussed last night.
relative = related to
  • Are there questions relative to our discussion?
relative = related to

Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list — Onelook.com®
Less commonly:
More specialized and less common senses of the word are found in philosophy, grammar, and music. Consult a comprehensive dictionary if you wish to see those. All senses have to do with relationships.
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