Definition of comparative in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəmˈperədiv/


1Perceptible by comparison; relative: he returned to the comparative comfort of his own home
More example sentences
  • Dan has also some very good posts up on US-China trade relations and the comparative efficiency of knowledge-based economies.
  • This issue is given more specific attention below in relation to the comparative design.
  • But we trust while no blame is cast on the heroes of the day, there will be no allusion to any attempt to estimate the comparative services of that day in the spirit of a dispute which has lately arisen about it.
relative, in/by comparison
2Of or involving comparison between two or more branches of science or subjects of study: comparative religion
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  • Studying comparative religion, he developed an interest in Christian Science and converted.
  • We didn't go out and study comparative religion, right?
  • He studied English and comparative religion at the West Sussex Institute, followed by teacher training and other postgraduate studies.
3 Grammar (Of an adjective or adverb) expressing a higher degree of a quality, but not the highest possible (e.g., braver; more fiercely). Contrasted with positive, superlative.
Example sentences
  • What I'm interested in is how the comparative adjective form wronger is pronounced.
3.1(Of a clause) involving comparison (e.g., their memory is not as good as it used to be).
Example sentences
  • Why didn't he just say so, instead of exposing himself to the Escherian complexities of the comparative construction?
  • The referent of the Mexican postmaster's comparative metaphor is itself left unspoken.
  • The particle H serves to provide a disjunctive or comparative conjunction between separate ideas or convictions.


1A comparative adjective or adverb.
Example sentences
  • There is much silliness abroad on the ‘logic’ governing the use of comparatives and superlatives.
  • As Geoff points out in his book, the/li r/at the end of ‘nuclear’ isn't at all unfamiliar to or difficult for speakers of English: comparatives like pricklier are unproblematic and show no inclination towards being reshaped.
  • But the trouble is, comparatives don't always need a ‘second part’ introduced by ‘than’.
1.1 (the comparative) The middle degree of comparison.


Late Middle English (sense 3 of the adjective): from Latin comparativus, from comparare 'to pair, match' (see compare).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·par·a·tive

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