false negative

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  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈfɔːls ˈnɛɡətɪv/, /ˈfɒls ˈnɛɡətɪv/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈfɔls ˈnɛɡətɪv/, /ˈfɑls ˈnɛɡətɪv/, /-ɾɪv/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: false ne‧ga‧tive


false negative (plural false negatives)

  1. A result of a test that shows as absent something that is present.
    While a false positive from a cancer screening test will unnecessarily frighten a healthy person, a false negative will deprive them of timely treatment.
    • 1835 February 7, J[ames] E[lishama] Smith, editor, System of Nature, number 24, London: Printed and published by B. D. Cousins, [], OCLC 70747036, page 187, column 1:
      Nature has three great stages, through which she carries each and all: there is first a false affirmative, then a false negative; then there is the combining doctrine, which destroys the error by destroying the partiality and exclusiveness of both.
    • 1862, A[braham] Hume, “Migration of Chapels in Liverpool”, in The Church of England the Home Missionary to the Poor, Especially in Our Large Towns. [], London: Seeley, Jackson, & Halliday, []; Liverpool: Adam Holden; Manchester: Sowler & Sons, OCLC 649349418, page 19:
      It may well be asked, what is a man to believe, when we find ministers and laymen, those who ought to be at once Christians and gentlemen, giving currency to statements so daring and unfounded as those which I am combating; and aiding and abetting each other in attempts to prove a false negative, by feigning ignorance!
    • 1958, The Chicago Medical School Quarterly, volume 19–20, Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Medical School, ISSN 0009-3629, OCLC 1554174:
      A is highly screening for B when the percentage of false negatives is small. It should be noted that a test which is highly specific for B may or may not have a large percentage of false negatives, []
    • 2007, Christian Metzger; Jan Meyer; Elgar Fleisch; Gerhard Tröster, “Weight-sensitive Foam to Monitor Product Availability on Retail Shelves”, in Anthony LaMarca, Marc Langheinrich, and Khai N. Truong, editors, Pervasive Computing: [] (LNCS; 4480), Berlin; Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, →ISBN, ISSN 0302-9743, pages 275–276:
      [I]t is critical that the system accurately detects and displays the sensors that are exposed to the weights of products. Errors occur when completely or partly covered sensors do not report a load (false negatives) or when sensors show the detection of a product even though they are not loaded (false positives).
    • 2015, Michael Wall, “Choice and Interpretation of Visual Field Testing”, in Leonard A. Levin and Anthony C. Arnold, editors, Neuro-ophthalmology: The Practical Guide, New York, N.Y.: Thieme Medical Publishers, →ISBN, section I (The Neuro-ophthalmic Examination), page 25, column 2:
      There are two types of catch trials: false positive and false negative. [] False-negative catch trials are meant to determine if a subject has fallen asleep or has an otherwise reduced ability to respond during a test. If a subject misses a brighter stimulus than has previously been seen, it is assumed that this represents a bona fide false-negative catch trial.
  2. (statistics) A type II error (accepting the null hypothesis when it is false).
    • 2003, Dov Stekel, “Experimental Design”, in Microarray Bioinformatics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 222:
      Statisticians sometimes refer to false negative results as Type II errors. Type II errors cannot be controlled explicitly, but are controlled implicitly via the experimental design.

Coordinate terms[edit]


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