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REL'ATIVE, adjective [Latin relativus.]

1. Having relation; respecting. The arguments may be good, but they are not relative to the subject.

2. Not absolute or existing by itself; considered as belonging to or respecting something else.

Every thing sustains both an absolute and a relative capacity; an absolute, as it is such a thing, endued with such a nature; and a relative as it is a part of the universe, and so stands in such a relation to the whole.

3. Incident to man in society; as relative rights and duties.

4. Particular; positive. [Not in use.]

Relative made, in music, the mode which the composer interweaves with the principal mode in the flow of the harmony.

Relative terms, in logic, terms which imply relation, as guardian and ward; master and servant; husband and wife.

Relative word, in grammar, a word which relates to another word, called its antecedent, or to a sentence or member of a sentence, or to a series of sentences.


1. A person connected by blood or affinity; strictly, one allied by blood; a relation; a kinsman or kinswoman.

Confining our care either to ourselves and relatives.

2. That which has relation to something else.

3. In grammar, a word which relates to or represents another word, called its antecedent, or to a sentence or member of a sentence, or to a series of sentences, which constitutes its antecedent. 'He seldom lives frugally, who lives by chance.' Here who is the relative which represents he, the antecedent.

'Judas declared him innocent, which he could not be, had he deceived his disciples.' Here which refers to innocent, an adjective, as its antecedent.

'Another reason that makes me doubt of any innate practical principles is, that I think there cannot any one moral rule be proposed, whereof a man may not justly demand a reason; which would be perfectly ridiculous and absurd, if they were innate, or so much as self-evident, which every innate principle must needs be.'

If we ask the question, what would be ridiculous and absurd, the answer must be, whereof a man may justly demand a reason, and this part of the sentence is the antecedent to which. Self-evident is the antecedent to which, near the close of the sentence.