Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin positivus, from positus, past participle of ponere
Date: 14th century
a. formally laid down or imposed ; prescribed <positive laws> b. expressed clearly or peremptorily <her answer was a positive no> c. fully assured ; confident <positive it was her book> 2. a. of, relating to, or constituting the degree of comparison that is expressed in English by the unmodified and uninflected form of an adjective or adverb and denotes no increase or diminution b. (1) independent of changing circumstances ; unconditioned <an insurance policy with positive coverage> (2) relating to or constituting a motion or device that is definite, unyielding, constant, or certain in its action <a positive system of levers> c. (1) incontestable <positive proof> (2) unqualified <a positive disgrace> 3. a. not fictitious ; real <positive social tensions> b. active and effective in social or economic function rather than merely maintaining peace and order <a positive government> 4. a. indicating, relating to, or characterized by affirmation, addition, inclusion, or presence rather than negation, withholding, or absence <took the positive approach and struck a new deal rather than canceling the contract> b. having rendition of light and shade similar in tone to the tones of the original subject <a positive photographic image> c. contributing toward or characterized by increase or progression <take some positive action> <positive cash flow> d. directed or moving toward a source of stimulation <a positive taxis> e. real and numerically greater than zero <+2 is a positive integer> 5. a. (1) being, relating to, or charged with electricity of which the proton is the elementary unit and which predominates in a glass body after being rubbed with silk (2) having more protons than electrons <a positive ion> b. (1) having higher electric potential and constituting the part from which the current flows to the external circuit <the positive terminal of a discharging storage battery> (2) being an electron-collecting electrode of an electron tube 6. a. marked by or indicating acceptance, approval, or affirmation <received a positive response> b. affirming the presence especially of a condition, substance, or organism suspected to be present <a positive test for blood>; also having a test result indicating the presence especially of a condition, substance, or organism <HIV positive> 7. of a lens converging light rays and forming a real inverted image 8. a. having a good effect ; favorable <a positive role model> b. marked by optimism <the positive point of view> Synonyms: see sure • positively adverb • positiveness noun II. noun Date: 1530 something positive: as a. (1) the positive degree of comparison in a language (2) a positive form of an adjective or adverb b. something of which an affirmation can be made ; reality c. a positive photograph or a print from a negative d. a positive result (as of a test); also a test yielding such a result
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.