9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[noo-truh l, nyoo-] /ˈnu trəl, ˈnyu-/
not taking part or giving assistance in a dispute or war between others:
a neutral nation during World War II.
not aligned with or supporting any side or position in a controversy:
The arbitrator was absolutely neutral.
of or belonging to a neutral state or party:
neutral territory.
of no particular kind, characteristics, etc.; indefinite:
a neutral personality that made no impression whatever; a sex-neutral job title.
  1. gray; without hue; of zero chroma; achromatic.
  2. matching well with many or most other colors or shades, as white or beige.
Botany, Zoology, neuter.
not causing or reflecting a change in something:
It is believed that the new tax law will be revenue neutral.
Chemistry. exhibiting neither acid nor alkaline qualities:
neutral salts.
  1. (of a particle) having no charge.
  2. (of an atom, molecule, collection of particles, fluid, or solid) having no net charge; electroneutral; not electrified.
  3. not magnetized.
Phonetics. (of a vowel) pronounced with the tongue relaxed in a central position, as the a in alive; reduced.
a person or a nation that remains neutral, as in a controversy or war.
a citizen of a neutral nation during a war.
Machinery, Automotive. the position or state of disengaged gears or other interconnecting parts:
in neutral.
a neutral color.
Origin of neutral
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin neutrālis grammatically neuter. See neuter, -al1
Related forms
neutrally, adverb
antineutral, adjective, noun
antineutrally, adverb
nonneutral, adjective, noun
nonneutrally, adverb
quasi-neutral, adjective
quasi-neutrally, adverb
semineutral, adjective
unneutral, adjective
unneutrally, adverb
2. impartial, disinterested, dispassionate, uninvolved, unbiased. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for neutral
  • Pushing or towing the vehicle offers no problem in a car with standard shift; just put it in neutral.
  • More importantly it has served as a neutral corner and oasis of peace in the war-torn city.
  • The idea of going carbon neutral by purchasing offsets is controversial.
  • If the surface has an equal number of positive and negative charges it is then electrically neutral.
  • Let other companies talk about going carbon neutral.
  • Many writers now consider hero, long restricted to males, to be a gender-neutral term.
  • After being shipped from its country of origin, each container of goods is routed through at least one neutral port.
  • The neutral wall color lets artwork and bedding take center stage.
  • As a college professor for 15 years I have to first say that it is impossible to be entirely "neutral" on any issue.
  • Both countries remained neutral during the cold war.
British Dictionary definitions for neutral


not siding with any party to a war or dispute
of, belonging to, or appropriate to a neutral party, country, etc: neutral land
of no distinctive quality, characteristics, or type; indifferent
(of a colour such as white or black) having no hue; achromatic
(of a colour) dull, but harmonizing with most other colours
a less common term for neuter (sense 2)
(chem) neither acidic nor alkaline
(physics) having zero charge or potential
(rare) having no magnetism
(phonetics) (of a vowel) articulated with the tongue relaxed in mid-central position and the lips midway between spread and rounded: the word ``about'' begins with a neutral vowel
a neutral person, nation, etc
a citizen of a neutral state
the position of the controls of a gearbox that leaves the transmission disengaged
Derived Forms
neutrally, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin neutrālis; see neuter
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 neutral

late 15c., "composed of contrasting elements which, in proper proportion, neutralize each other," from Middle French neutral, from Latin neutralis "of neuter gender," from neuter (see neuter (adj.)). Chemistry sense is from 1660s. Sense of "not taking sides in a fight" (1540s) probably is from a similar meaning in Medieval Latin. Of colors, from 1821. Neutral corner is from boxing (1908).


mid-15c., "one who remains neutral," from Latin neutralis "of neuter gender," (see neutral (adj.)). Meaning "disengaged position in gear mechanisms" is from 1912.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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neutral in Medicine

neutral neu·tral (nōō'trəl, nyōō'-)

  1. Belonging to neither kind; not one thing or the other; indifferent.

  2. Of or relating to a solution or compound that is neither acidic nor alkaline.

  3. Of or relating to a compound that does not ionize in solution.

  4. Of or relating to a particle, an object, or a system that has a net electric charge of zero.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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neutral in Science
  1. Neither acid nor alkaline.

  2. Having no inherent or net charge, especially electric charge.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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