Definition of privative in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprɪvətɪv/


1(Of an action or state) marked by the absence or loss of some quality or attribute that is normally present.
Example sentences
  • Evil is merely privative, not absolute: it is like cold, which is the privation of heat.
  • Augustine developed two basic inceptions of evil, the privative and the aesthetic.
  • We could adopt, I suppose, a privative theory of goodness, according to which every good consists in the absence of some corresponding evil.
1.1(Of a statement or term) denoting the absence or loss of an attribute or quality: parliament may insert a privative clause to achieve this result
More example sentences
  • I do not think you can even grant such an order if the privative clause operates, can you?
  • He suggested that a privative clause expands the jurisdiction of a decision-maker.
  • The privative clause boosts the validity of the decisions made by Refugee Tribunals and by decision-makers in my Department.
1.2 Grammar (Of a particle or affix) expressing absence or negation, for example the Greek a-, meaning ‘not’, in atypical.
Example sentences
  • The privative and benefactive suffixes should have vowels (a and e) written with underdots.
  • Has this "a" any connection with the alpha privative of the Indo-European tongues?


Late 16th century: from Latin privativus 'denoting privation', from privat- 'deprived' (see privation).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: priv|ative

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