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relative +‎ -ly


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹɛl.ə.tɪ
    • (US, Canada) IPA(key): (enunciated) [ˈɹɛl.ə.tʰɪ], (flapped) [ˈɹɛl.ə.ɾɪ][note 1]
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relatively (not comparable)

  1. Proportionally, in relation to some larger scale thing.
    He measured his success relatively, that is, competitively.
    • 2011 October 1, Saj Chowdhury, “Wolverhampton 1 - 2 Newcastle”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Alan Pardew's current squad has been put together with a relatively low budget but the resolve and unity within the team is priceless.
  2. (sometimes proscribed) Somewhat.
    He was relatively successful.

Usage notes[edit]

The word literally means "compared with", but some now use relatively to mean "moderately" or "somewhat" (perhaps in the sense of "compared to the average/expectation"), which is sometimes proscribed. Its overall acceptability comes from the implied comparison to some standard, usually what is considered normal or average in the context of what is being evaluated. For example, "He was relatively successful" implies "He was relatively successful compared to the average person."



  1. ^ In General American and Canadian English, the flapped [ɾ] pronunciation [ˈɹɛl.ə.ɾɪv] of relative is more common than the aspirated [tʰ] pronunciation [ˈɹɛl.ə.tʰɪv]; but in the derived adverb relatively, the aspirated pronunciation [ˈɹɛl.ə.tʰɪ] is more common, though the flap-t version can still be heard, especially in casual speech.