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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
  • Karim was a people smuggler—it was a pretty lucrative business then, driving people out of Shorawi-occupied Kabul to the relative safety of Pakistan.
    Khaled Hosseini  --  The Kite Runner
  • relative = when compared to other things
  • Among the lessons that Felix had bestowed upon Safie, geography had not been omitted; I had learned from these the relative situations of the different countries of the earth.
    Mary Shelley  --  Frankenstein
  • relative = in comparison to each other
  • 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
  • ...she couldn't get the brakes to work and she had Brian and me stick our heads out the windows and scream, "No brakes! No brakes!" as we rolled through intersections and she looked for something relatively soft to crash into.
    Jeannette Walls  --  The Glass Castle
  • relatively = in comparison (to alternatives)
  • As a daughter, he hoped a penitent one, she should be protected by him, and secured in every comfort, and supported by every encouragement to do right, which their relative situations admitted; but farther than that he could not go.
    Jane Austen  --  Mansfield Park
relative = in comparison to each other

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.
  • How come their relatives couldn't come and warn them?
    Christopher Paul Curtis  --  The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
  • relatives = people or things connected in various senses
  • He was a sick man who returned home to see his friends and relatives before he died.
    Ellen Raskin  --  The Westing Game
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • He might remain in Switzerland and wreak his vengeance on my relatives.
    Mary Shelley  --  Frankenstein
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • Candy interrupted him, "I'd make a will an' leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, 'cause I ain't got no relatives nor nothing."
    John Steinbeck  --  Of Mice and Men
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • By then, most of my friends and relatives had either been killed or had escaped the country to Pakistan or Iran.
    Khaled Hosseini  --  The Kite Runner
  • relatives = people related by blood or marriage
  • And she had Mrs. Murdo, who was somewhere between a friend and a relative.
    Jeanne DuPrau  --  The City of Ember
  • relative = person related by blood or marriage
  • The idea was they would be able to stop a woman accompanied by a man and require her to prove that the man was her relative.
    Malala Yousafzai  --  I Am Malala
relative = person 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
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • Are there questions relative to our discussion?
  • relative = related to
  • It had been real business, relative to the renewal of a lease in which the welfare of a large and—he believed—industrious family was at stake.
    Jane Austen  --  Mansfield Park
  • relative = related to
  • He was to go to town as soon as some business relative to Thornton Lacey were completed— perhaps within a fortnight; he talked of going, he loved to talk of it; and when once with her again, Fanny could not doubt the rest.
    Jane Austen  --  Mansfield Park
  • relative = related to
  • ...but Mr. Yates, without discernment to catch Sir Thomas's meaning, or diffidence, or delicacy, or discretion enough to allow him to lead the discourse while he mingled among the others with the least obtrusiveness himself, would keep him on the topic of the theatre, would torment him with questions and remarks relative to it, and finally would make him hear the whole history of his disappointment at Ecclesford.
    Jane Austen  --  Mansfield Park
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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