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From late Middle English absolutly,[1] equivalent to absolute +‎ -ly. First attested in 1425.[2]



absolutely (not comparable)

  1. In an absolute or unconditional manner; utterly, positively, wholly.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:completely
  2. Independently; viewed without relation to other things or factors.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:individually

Usage notes[edit]

  • Absolutely is not to be confused with intensives such as very or indeed, as it is an unconditional term, absolutely/*very essential, vital or crucial.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. Yes, certainly; expression indicating strong agreement.
    Is Bob a good teacher?
    Do you want a free cookie with that coffee?

Usage notes[edit]

  • Some commentators, especially in England, criticise the interjectional use as having no meaning beyond that of yes.[3] This is not to mean that emphasis is useless, which of course, pragmatically speaking, it isn’t; rather, it means that absolutely is better avoided when there is no emphasis, or, in other words, when the meaning is simply Yes (compare, in French, the use of Tout à fait as an answer, with the meaning of Oui, which is advised against by the Trésor de la langue française informatisé). On the other hand, emphasis can also be expressed in other ways: for instance, Yes, of course, Yes, indeed, Yes, certainly.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ absō̆lūtlī, adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ absolutely, adv.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
  3. ^ Christopher Howse; Richard Preston (2007) She Literally Exploded: The Daily Telegraph Infuriating Phrasebook, London: Constable and Robinson, →ISBN, page 3.