Definition of equal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈēkwəl/


1Being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value: add equal amounts of water and flour 1 liter is roughly equal to 1 quart
More example sentences
  • In estimating, it can be assumed that the yield of the concrete will be approximately equal to the quantity of gravel used.
  • The amount of the deduction is equal to the value of the stock contributed.
  • The sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles.
identical, uniform, alike, like, the same, equivalent;
matching, even, comparable, similar, corresponding
equivalent to, identical to, amounting to;
proportionate to;
commensurate with, on a par with
1.1(Of people) having the same status, rights, or opportunities.
Example sentences
  • Legislation giving women status as equal partners in marriage was passed in 1993.
  • He is not equal in status to the other citizens.
  • This experience reinforced American egalitarianism, the belief that everyone is equal in status.
1.2Uniform in application or effect; without discrimination on any grounds: a dedicated campaigner for equal rights
More example sentences
  • I will do everything in my power to fight for fair and equal treatment.
  • The report found pregnancy discrimination, equal pay, harassment, access to employment and promotion, and dismissal as causes of complaint.
  • They also indicated in large numbers that they hoped to end segregation and discrimination and receive equal, just, and fair treatment.
unbiased, impartial, nonpartisan, fair, just, equitable;
unprejudiced, nondiscriminatory, egalitarian;
neutral, objective, disinterested
1.3Evenly or fairly balanced: it was hardly an equal contest
More example sentences
  • The duel - more equal and balanced in the play than in the film, where the camera unfairly favours Nicholson - is a showdown between two opposed acting styles.
  • At first, it seemed reasonable; everyone had fairly equal responsibilities, which I noted she never bothered with herself.
  • It is difficult to foster and feed the kind of balanced, equal relationship that can sustain us into the future.
evenly matched, even, balanced, level;
on a par, on an equal footing
informal fifty-fifty, neck and neck
2 [predicative] (equal to) Having the ability or resources to meet (a challenge): the players proved equal to the task
More example sentences
  • Against the wind in the second half, Confey now had to face a far tougher challenge but they were equal to the task.
  • The people of York have proved themselves equal to the task.
  • With her comprehensive research, sound analysis, and engaging style, Williams proves herself equal to the task.
capable of, fit for, up to, good enough for, strong enough for;
suitable for, suited to, appropriate for


A person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality: we all treat each other as equals it was a day without equal in market history
More example sentences
  • Bergerac has an under-appreciated white wine, Monbazillac, that is almost the equal of many Sauternes and much less expensive.
  • He was now a land owner - the equal of his former employers.
  • The stairways and the timbers used have had few equals in the present day.
equivalent, peer, fellow, coequal, like;
counterpart, match, parallel

verb (equals, equaling, equaled; also chiefly British equals, equalling, equalled)

[with object]
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 equaled 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, be level with, measure up to
be as good as, be a match for, measure up to, equate with;
be in the same league as, rival, compete 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.


It is widely held that adjectives such as equal and unique have absolute meanings and therefore can have no degrees of comparison. Hence they should not be modified, and it is incorrect to say more equal or very unique on the grounds that these are adjectives that refer to a logical or mathematical absolute. For more discussion of this question, see unique (usage).



(the) first among equals

The person or thing having the highest status in a group.
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.

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.


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

  • A word that came from Latin aequus, which is also at the root of adequate (early 17th century), equable (mid 17th century), equanimity (early 17th century), equate (Middle English), equity (Middle English), equivalent (Late Middle English) ‘of equal worth’, equator (Late Middle English) the circle where day and night are equal, iniquity (Middle English), and, via French, egalitarian (late 19th century). George Orwell's political satire Animal Farm (1945) is the source of the quotation ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.’ Another historic use of equal is from the American Declaration of Independence (1776): ‘We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ See also first

Words that rhyme with equal

coequal, prequel, sequel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: e·qual

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