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First attested around 1472. From Middle English absurdite,[1] then from either Middle French absurdité, or from Late Latin absurditas (dissonance, incongruity), from Latin absurdus +‎ -itas (quality, state, degree).[2][3] Equivalent to absurd +‎ -ity.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əbˈsɜːd.ɪ.ti/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /æbˈsɝd.ɪ.ti/, /æbˈzɝd.ɪ.ti/, /əbˈsɝd.ɪ.ti/, /əbˈzɝd.ɪ.ti/


absurdity (countable and uncountable, plural absurdities)

  1. (countable) That which is absurd; an absurd action; a logical contradiction. [First attested in the late 15th century.][3]
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 7, in The History of Pendennis. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      And it is a fact that in these two days the boy had almost talked over his mother, too; had parried all her objections one after another with that indignant good sense which is often the perfection of absurdity
  2. (uncountable) The quality of being absurd or inconsistent with obvious truth, reason, or sound judgment. [First attested in the early 16th century.][3]
    • 1689 (indicated as 1690), [John Locke], An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. [], London: [] Eliz[abeth] Holt, for Thomas Basset, [], →OCLC:
      The absurdity of the actual idea of an infinite number
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page viii:
      Neither [Jones] [] nor I (in 1966) could conceive of reducing our "science" to the ultimate absurdity of reading Finnish newspapers almost a century and a half old in order to establish "priority."
    • 2023 July 12, Philip Haigh, “Narrow narrative overlooks past and present achievements”, in RAIL, number 987, page 50:
      There's credit too for highlighting the problems of Manchester's Castlefield Corridor, where he showed the absurdity of building Ordsall Chord to feed more trains into the congested corridor without upgrading the corridor itself.
  3. (obsolete, rare) Dissonance. [Attested from around 1350 to 1470 until the late 17th century.][3]



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. ^ Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], →ISBN), page 7
  2. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN), page 8
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “absurdity”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 10.

Further reading[edit]