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[kuh m-par-uh-tiv] /kəmˈpær ə tɪv/
of or relating to comparison.
proceeding by, founded on, or using comparison as a method of study:
comparative anatomy.
estimated by comparison; not positive or absolute; relative:
a comparative newcomer in politics; to live in comparative luxury.
Grammar. being, noting, or pertaining to the intermediate degree of the comparison of adjectives, as better and more beautiful, the comparative forms of good and beautiful, and of adverbs, as nearer and more carefully, the comparative forms of near and carefully.
Compare positive (def 20), superlative (def 2).
noun, Grammar
the comparative degree.
a form in the comparative.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin comparātīvus, equivalent to comparāt(us) (past participle of comparāre to compare; see -ate1) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
comparatively, adverb
comparativeness, noun
Can be confused
comparable, comparative. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for comparative
  • Teaching interests in comparative issues or political sociology a plus.
  • Second, the case for free trade depends on comparative rather than absolute advantage.
  • But his work basically founded the field of comparative anatomy, and modern surgery, too.
  • Comparing the genomes of different organisms is a burgeoning field of science called comparative genomics.
  • But this gets comparative advantage completely wrong.
  • The rough sequencing of the dog genome is the latest advance in the field of comparative genomics.
  • The key features of the three approaches, in a comparative fashion, are shown in this table.
  • But that comparative disadvantage has been evaporating of late.
  • The results reveal the comparative strengths, advantages, and limitations of the various martial arts styles.
  • In the field of comparative genomics, researchers aim to discover the secrets of evolution and disease.
British Dictionary definitions for comparative


denoting or involving comparison: comparative literature
judged by comparison; relative: a comparative loss of prestige
(grammar) denoting the form of an adjective that indicates that the quality denoted is possessed to a greater extent. In English the comparative form of an adjective is usually marked by the suffix -er or the word more Compare positive (sense 10), superlative (sense 2)
the comparative form of an adjective
Derived Forms
comparatively, adverb
comparativeness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for comparative

mid-15c., from Middle French comparatif, from Latin comparativus "pertaining to comparison," from comparat-, past participle stem of comparare (see comparison). Originally grammatical; general sense is from c.1600; meaning "involving different branches of a subject" is from 1670s. Related: Comparatively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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comparative in Culture

comparative definition

A form of an adjective indicating a greater degree of the quality that the adjective describes. Better is the comparative form of good; faster is the comparative form of fast; bluer is the comparative form of blue; more charming is the comparative form of charming. (Compare superlative.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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