Definition of equal in English:


Line breaks: equal
Pronunciation: /ˈiːkw(ə)l



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verb (equals, equalling, equalled; US equals, equaling, equaled)

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  • 1Be the same as in number or amount: four plus six divided by two equals five the total debits should equal the total credits
    More example sentences
    • The first thing to note about the 8% figure quoted by the prime minister is that it does not equal the amount of total EU income spent on health care.
    • Table VII shows that the number of paper-cutting opportunities nearly equaled the total number of paper-folding opportunities in the ten textbooks.
    • Euler asserts that the sum of the harmonic series equals the natural logarithm of infinity plus a quantity that is nearly a constant.
  • 1.1Match or rival in performance or extent: he equalled the world record of 9.93 seconds
    More example sentences
    • This time the Trophy Match equalled the flawless performance of the other two.
    • Publicly, she may well claim she aims to smash her final imprint into the record book, equalling the record of 20 Wimbledon titles garnered by Billie Jean King.
    • Browne's time in the 60m sprint equalled his best performance this year, which has him ranked in the top 10 nationally.
    match, reach, parallel, come up to, be level with, measure up to, achievebe as good as, be equal/even/level with, be a match for, match, measure up to, come up to, equate with, be in the same league as, be in the same category as, be tantamount to; rival, compete with, contend with, vie with
  • 1.2Be equivalent to: his work is concerned with why private property equals exploitation
    More example sentences
    • Both universities have started educational campaigns to teach students that downloading copyrighted songs equals intellectual property theft.
    • What these works reveal most vividly is that suburban history is, more than anything else, a story in which property equals power.
    • A danger to his property equaled a direct danger to him.


(the) first among equals

The person or thing having the highest status in a group: the clerk was regarded as first among equals by the other chief officers
More example sentences
  • He will be the first among equals, but they will all have to prove themselves.
  • Sorry Campbell, you may be the first among equals, but you ain't the boss.
  • As the first among equals, the Prime Minister will symbolically have his finger on the nuclear button.

on equal terms

With the same advantages and disadvantages: all companies should be able to compete on equal terms
More example sentences
  • The competition takes place on a level playing field, where every country has a chance to participate on equal terms.
  • Companies are no longer allowed to exclude part-time workers - they must offer membership to everyone on equal terms.
  • For clubs playing in European competitions, a mid-season break would allow them to compete on equal terms.

other (or all) things being equal

Provided that other factors or circumstances remain the same: it follows that, other things being equal, the price level will rise
More example sentences
  • Once this finds an outlet through trade and specialisation, all things being equal, material progress follows.
  • It does not always provide for perfect justice or perfect security but, all things being equal, it is an improvement over the endless territorial and tribal wars that came before.
  • So, all other things being equal, the left-handed trait, which is largely genetic, should have died out long ago in prehistory.

some —— are more equal than others

Although members of a society or group appear to be equal, in reality some receive better treatment than others: evidently, some communities are more equal than others
More example sentences
  • They are trying to get the state to stop claiming that some relationships are more equal than others.
  • The squabbles about the International Criminal Court indicate that some states are more equal than others.
  • Well, it turns out, some equal rights are more equal than others.


late Middle English: from Latin aequalis, from aequus 'even, level, equal'.


It is widely held that adjectives such as equal and unique should not be modified and that it is incorrect to say more equal or very unique, on the grounds that these are adjectives which refer to a logical or mathematical absolute. For more discussion of this question, see unique (usage).

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