While reading same book Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Ruined America, I find new term called 'in absolute terms'. This sentence I find:

Though economic conditions of the Seventies may have been the worst since the Great Depression, they were not so bad in absolute terms: living standards continued to rise and performance was better, overall, than it would be in subsequent recessions.

I search Longman's Dictionary. It gives "in absolute terms measured by itself, not in comparison with other things"

Example, "In absolute terms wages have risen, but not in comparison with the cost of living."

I still no understand. Does it mean 'absolutely'?

1 Answer 1


If something is higher "in absolute terms", it means the count or measurement is higher in number. The opposite is higher "in relative terms", where the count or measurement is higher when compared to something else. Absolute measurements are given in the proper units for the thing you're measuring, like litres for liquid, grams for mass, seconds for time, etc., while relative measurements are usually given in percentages or ratios.

Let's look at my income and my cost of living over 10 years:

2010 2020
Income: $50K $60K
Cost of living: $25K $30K

In absolute terms, my income went up by $10K, but in relative terms (relative to the cost of living, that is), my income didn't go up at all, or 0%.

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