from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not present; missing.
  • adjective Not existent; lacking.
  • adjective Exhibiting or feeling inattentiveness.
  • transitive verb To keep (oneself) away.
  • preposition Without.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Not in a certain place at a given time; not in consciousness or thought at a certain time; away: opposed to present.
  • Not existing; wanting; not forming a part or attribute of: as, among them refinement is absent; revenge is entirely absent from his mind.
  • Absent-minded (which see).
  • noun One who is not present; an absentee.
  • To make absent; take or keep away: now used only reflexively, but formerly sometimes otherwise, as by Milton: as, to absent one's self from home; he absented himself from the meeting.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Being away from a place; withdrawn from a place; not present.
  • adjective Not existing; lacking.
  • adjective Inattentive to what is passing; absent-minded; preoccupied.
  • transitive verb To take or withdraw (one's self) to such a distance as to prevent intercourse; -- used with the reflexive pronoun.
  • transitive verb obsolete To withhold from being present.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective lost in thought; showing preoccupation
  • adjective not being in a specified place
  • adjective nonexistent
  • verb go away or leave


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin absēns, absent-, present participle of abesse, to be away : ab-, away; see ab– + esse, to be; see es- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French absenter, from Late Latin absentare ("keep away, be away").


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  • Such a Nootka word, for instance, as “when, as they say, he had been absent for four days” might be expected to embody at least three radical elements corresponding to the concepts of “absent, ” “four, ” and “day.

    Chapter 4. Form in Language: Grammatical Processes 1921

  • Where this is absent, art is absent, _precisely because pure intuition is absent_, and we have at the most, in exchange for it, _that reflex_, philosophical, historical, or scientific.

    Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic Benedetto Croce 1909

  • Their _vis-à-vis_ is a lively lady, apparently taking stock of a _bouquet_, but, in reality, joking an absent gentleman, opposite: -- it is Miss Gay, whom Lark (her partner) is making laugh, by observing -- the gentleman is not so _absent_ as he ought to be; causing that lady to forget herself -- making many mistakes and false starts; which, being those of a person who knew better, were very diverting.

    Christmas Comes but Once A Year Showing What Mr. Brown Did, Thought, and Intended to Do, during that Festive Season. John Leighton 1867

  • _absent_ from the Gospels: death is not a bridge, not a passing; it is absent because it belongs to a quite different, a merely apparent world, useful only as a symbol.

    The Antichrist Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 1872

  • The Pakistan players at the centre of the spot‑fixing scandal that rocked cricket will remain absent from the sport indefinitely, after two of the trio today had appeals against their provisional suspensions turned down.

    Shamed Pakistan players remain suspended after ICC rejects appeals Owen Gibson 2010

  • For the first time now, with her name absent from the Boston papers for two days in a row, she wondered what would happen if two days became three, then five, then ten.

    Lake News Barbara Delinsky 1999

  • For the first time now, with her name absent from the Boston papers for two days in a row, she wondered what would happen if two days became three, then five, then ten.

    Lake News Barbara Delinsky 1999

  • Molly herself is absent from the story, away in New York, and has offered her house to our narrator so that she may have some peace and comfort in which to get to grips with a recalcitrant new play.

    Molly Fox’s Birthday « Tales from the Reading Room 2009

  • Further, the question was an add-on, obviously asked later and in a different context because it is absent from the interview transcript.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Judge Reinhardt’s Dig on Sarah Palin 2010

  • Its particularly ironic considering these are people normally (or heretofore anyway) absent from the political debate, but now they are strongly involved.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Racism and The Tea Partiers 2010


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  • apparently already had this on my 'miscellanea' list - was it for the reason I wanted to add it now, though? Listed in the sense of being an equivalent part of speech to 'without'. The interesting part is that, like 'less' used in this sense, it (edit: sometimes? My example contradicts this!) seems to imply an active taking-away. Sort of a continuum: without–absent–less. Hmm!

    examples for clarification:

    "absent any sense of morality" (synonym: 'lacking', pronunciation: /əb'sent/, /æb'sent/)

    "£40 less a £10 discount" (synonym: 'minus', prosody de-emphasises the 'less' as it would if it were replaced by 'minus' - try it)

    September 1, 2011