What would be a good collocation to emphasize the absence of something. A 'strong absence' sounds a bit oxymoronic to me.

I want to talk about the absence of certain important aspects in someone's critique of something. Sorry, the context is kind of complex. I think 'striking' may do

  • 'Flash new nightclub, on its opening night… with a ___ absence of customers' would be a suitable case. edit 'notable' springs to mind, as does 'noticeable' or if you were a reporter, wanting to turn the screw, 'distinguished' would hammer it home. Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 21:42
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    "Striking" sounds fine to me. Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 21:51
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    I go for "conspicuous absence" myself.
    – hobbs
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 22:20
  • 2
    – user230
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 23:27
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    "gaping absence", "yawning absense"?
    – Vi.
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 12:43

8 Answers 8


"Marked absence" maybe? "striking" as suggested above also seems to work. "Complete" absence seems good for situations where there's a continuum from present to absence ("Complete absence of calories") but less so for say whether an extroverted friend comes to a party ("strong presence") or not ("marked absence").

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    I'd go with "marked absence," but keep in mind that the pronunciation here is not the same as you might expect; /ˈmɑːkɪd/ (like "markid") rather than /mɑːkt/ (like "markt").
    – Cat
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 23:58
  • It may be my American (Californian) accent, but I have always pronounced it the latter way ("markt") and not made a distinction. Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 8:10
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    I don't remember ever hearing anyone say /ˈmɑːkɪd/ in this context. I'm neither American nor British, but I'd say /mɑːkt/ every time. Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 8:57
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    I've always heard it as /ˈmɑːkɪd/ when used as an adjective. If someone said "/mɑːkt/ absence", I'd think they lost grades in class due to being absent.
    – Cat
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 16:45

The first thing coming to mind after complete absence was conspicuous absence, and Google ngrams seems to support my instinct that it is more common than other solutions (besides "complete"):

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Though "complete" is more common, it seems to me that it is also more neutral.

If I wanted to emphasize the obviousness or strikingness of an absence, I would use "conspicuous." "Marked" and "noticeable" could be considered of the same flavor.

If I wanted to emphasize the completeness of an absence, I would pick "complete" or "total," or even "utter."


A "complete absence" sounds natural to my (American) ear.


A noticeable absence also works.


I have seen the phrase "A palpable absence" used in various contexts. It is somewhat figurative, since the literal meaning of palpable is "able to be touched or felt".


A sound can be weakly or strongly present, but it can only be absent in one way.

'Strongly present' describes the sound; if there is no sound, I think you need to be describing people's reaction to the lack of sound, or the remaining scene.

In my example, the silence isn't strong, but it might be remarkable, or enveloping, or notable or surprising or unexpected or unbelievable or unbroken or all-encompassing.

Geoff had a strong presence; the group strongly felt his absence.

Company A put in a strong presence at the trade show, Company B was totally absent.



A glaring absence.

It sounds natural to me, though Google doesn't return that many results.


How about... A telling absence? The word 'absence' already has some impact when used in a narrative. Remarking on the absence of someone or something offers a wealth of meaning, don't you think? So, the absence may be telling, noticeable, significant, marked, so on and so forth.

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