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

  • adjective Characterized by or displaying certainty, acceptance, or affirmation.
  • adjective Measured or moving forward or in a direction of increase or progress.
  • adjective Desirable, admirable, or beneficial.
  • adjective Optimistic or constructive.
  • adjective Not disparaging or malicious.
  • adjective Very confident; certain: synonym: sure.
  • adjective Explicitly or openly expressed or laid down.
  • adjective Admitting of no doubt; irrefutable.
  • adjective Concerned with practical rather than theoretical matters.
  • adjective Of or relating to positivism.
  • adjective Of or relating to positive law.
  • adjective Of or relating to religion based on revelation rather than on nature or reason alone.
  • adjective Informal Utter; absolute.
  • adjective Relating to or designating a quantity greater than zero.
  • adjective Relating to or designating the sign (+).
  • adjective Relating to or designating a quantity, number, angle, or direction opposite to another designated as negative.
  • adjective Relating to or designating an electric charge of a sign opposite to that of an electron.
  • adjective Of or relating to a body having fewer electrons than protons.
  • adjective Chemistry Of or relating to an ion, the cation, that is attracted to a negative electrode.
  • adjective Medicine Indicating the presence of a particular disease, condition, or organism.
  • adjective Biology Indicating or characterized by response or motion toward the source of a stimulus, such as light.
  • adjective Having the areas of light and dark in their original and normal relationship, as in a photographic print made from a negative.
  • adjective Grammar Of, relating to, or being the simple uncompared degree of an adjective or adverb, as opposed to either the comparative or superlative.
  • adjective Driven by or generating power directly through intermediate machine parts having little or no play.
  • noun An affirmative element or characteristic.
  • noun Mathematics A quantity greater than zero.
  • noun Physics A positive electric charge.
  • noun A photographic image in which the lights and darks appear as they do in nature.
  • noun The uncompared degree of an adjective or adverb.
  • noun A word in this degree.
  • noun Music A division of some pipe organs, similar in sound to the great but smaller and less powerful.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Specifically, noting an oiling or lubricating device in which the oil is made to flow by pressure, due either to gravity or to pumping.
  • Laid down as a proposition; affirmed; stated; express: as, a positive declaration.
  • Of an affirmative nature; possessing definite characters of its own; of a kind to excite sensation or be otherwise directly experienced; not negative. Thus, light is positive, darkness negative; man is positive, nonman negative.
  • Arbitrarily laid down; determined by declaration, enactment, or convention, and not by nature: opposed to natural.
  • Imperative; laid down as a command to be followed without question or discretion: as, positive orders.
  • Unquestionable; indubitable; certain; hence, experiential.
  • Confident; fully assured.
  • Over-confident in opinion and assertion; dogmatic.
  • Actually or really officiating or discharging the duties of an office.
  • Not reversed.
  • Not comparative.
  • noun That which settles by absolute appointment.
  • noun That which is capable of being affirmed; reality.
  • noun In grammar, the positive degree.


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

[Middle English, having a specified quality, from Old French positif, from Latin positīvus, formally laid down, from positus, past participle of pōnere, to place; see apo- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old (and modern) French positif, or Latin positivus, from the past participle stem of ponere ("to place"). Compare posit.


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