Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not present; missing: absent friends; absent parents.
  • adj. Not existent; lacking: a country in which morality is absent.
  • adj. Exhibiting or feeling inattentiveness: an absent nod.
  • transitive v. To keep (oneself) away: They absented themselves from the debate.
  • prep. Without: "Absent a legislative fix, this is an invitation for years of litigation” ( Brian E. O'Neill).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Being away from a place; withdrawn from a place; not present.
  • adj. Not existing; lacking.
  • adj. Inattentive to what is passing; absent-minded; preoccupied.
  • transitive v. To take or withdraw (one's self) to such a distance as to prevent intercourse; -- used with the reflexive pronoun.
  • transitive v. To withhold from being present.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not in a certain place at a given time; not in consciousness or thought at a certain time; away: opposed to present.
  • Not existing; wanting; not forming a part or attribute of: as, among them refinement is absent; revenge is entirely absent from his mind.
  • Absent-minded (which see).
  • n. One who is not present; an absentee.
  • To make absent; take or keep away: now used only reflexively, but formerly sometimes otherwise, as by Milton: as, to absent one's self from home; he absented himself from the meeting.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lost in thought; showing preoccupation
  • adj. not being in a specified place
  • adj. nonexistent
  • v. go away or leave

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin absēns, absent-, present participle of abesse, to be away : ab-, away; see ab-1 + esse, to be; see es- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French absenter, from Late Latin absentare ("keep away, be away"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • apparently already had this on my 'miscellanea' list - was it for the reason I wanted to add it now, though? Listed in the sense of being an equivalent part of speech to 'without'. The interesting part is that, like 'less' used in this sense, it (edit: sometimes? My example contradicts this!) seems to imply an active taking-away. Sort of a continuum: without–absent–less. Hmm!

    examples for clarification:
    "absent any sense of morality" (synonym: 'lacking', pronunciation: /əb'sent/, /æb'sent/)
    "£40 less a £10 discount" (synonym: 'minus', prosody de-emphasises the 'less' as it would if it were replaced by 'minus' - try it)

    September 1, 2011