Absolute adjective

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In linguistics, an absolute adjective is an adjective ( adjective ) that semantically does not allow any increase , since participation in this property is only possible entirely or not at all, but not to a varying extent.

For example, one person may be pregnant, but not “a little pregnant”, “more pregnant” than another, or “most pregnant”. So pregnant is an absolute adjective. Further examples:

  • triangular
  • lukewarm,
  • oral,
  • dead,
  • lively,
  • equal,
  • finished.

Absolute adjectives also include adjectives that per se express a highest or lowest degree:

  • empty,
  • full,
  • all,
  • only,
  • optimal,
  • absolutely.

If a superlative is formed from absolute adjectives , it is sometimes called a hyperlative in everyday language . Examples:

  • the most optimal solution,
  • the emptyest glass
  • the last alternative,
  • of vital importance
  • the only way.

Absolute adjectives, however, can be properly increased if they are used in a figurative or relative meaning:

  • "Pastor Müller's sermons are livelier than Pastor Schmidt's sermons."
  • "Today the bus is pretty empty, but yesterday it was even emptier ."

Occasionally an absolute adjective is increased for rhetorical reasons, precisely because an absolute property cannot actually be increased or graded:

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Absolute adjective  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations