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Like unique, equal is technically an absolute -- either two things are equal or they aren't. This is particularly true of the mathematical sense.

Nonetheless, people tend to use it in comparative senses, with e.g., "more equal" meaning "more nearly equal." in the technical sense. How bothersome this is depends on how important it is for grammar to be prescriptive as opposed to descriptive.

It doesn't bother me greatly. -dmh 02:48, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The rule against comparing absolutes is largely a specious one. The writers of the United States Constitution, for example, didn't have any problems with forming "a more perfect union". Usually this is derided as weakening the strength of the absolutes, but the phenomenon doesn't arise from ambiguities in the absolutes, but in the modifiers being applied to them (e.g. more meaning "more nearly", or very meaning "truly"). —Muke Tever 03:38, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I like that analysis. -dmh 03:40, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)
It's a rule of usage rather than a rule of grammar. Or it's prescriptive rather than descriptive. — Hippietrail 04:36, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)