a-, ab-, abs-

(Latin: prefix; from, away, away from)


This prefix is normally used with elements of Latin and French origins (abs- usually joins elements beginning with c, q, or t).

The form ab- is regularly used before all vowels and h; and it becomes a- before the consonants m, p, and v. The prefix apo- has similar meanings.

This list is a very small sample of the multitudes of a-, ab-, abs- prefixes that are available in dictionaries and those in this unit are only meant to present a few examples.



You can greatly expand your word knowledge in this
and in all of the other word units.

absent (verb), absents; absented; absenting
To stay away from something: Debra and Amanda were absenting themselves from the meeting because of the weather.

Why did you absent yourself from the meeting yesterday?

With permission, Antonio, Danny, and Luis have absented themselves from attending the lecture at the university the next day.

The members of the club were absenting themselves from the golf course because of the rain.

absentee (s) (noun), absentees (pl)
1. Someone who is expected to be in a place or at an event, but who doesn't go: Virginia was the only absentee when the roll was called.
2. People who are not attending their employment, school, duty, etc.: The number of absentees at the factory was of concern to the managers.

The student leadership was upset about the number of absentees at the rally the day before.

absenteeism (s) (noun), absenteeisms (pl)
The habitual failure to appear or to be somewhere; especially, for work or some other regular duty: The most common causes of absenteeisms include influenza and occupationally related skin diseases.

The rates of absenteeism in the work force caused the factory to reduce production.

The explanations for a number of absenteeisms varied from headaches to injuries.

absenter (s) (nouns), absenters (pl)
Anyone who is not present or who is not in a certain place at a given time; a missing or nonexistent person: Shawn was an absenter who missed more classes than he attended.

As a joke, the student club at the university decided to give an award to the most outstanding absenter, the one who missed most of his or her classes!

At the awards ceremony, there was a tie with two absenters because they were not present for the same number of times.

absentminded, absent-minded (adjective); more absentminded, more absent-minded; most absentminded, most absent-minded
1. Being preoccupied, forgetful, or careless as a result of some kind of distraction: It took the absent-minded man a long time to find his glasses which were on top of his head.
2. Lost in thought or showing a preoccupation with something else: The absentminded writer couldn't remember where he put his notes for the new chapter of his book.
absentmindedly (adverb), more absentmindedly, most absentmindedly
In a preoccupied manner or with unwarranted distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or some environmental events: Today Alice absentmindedly put orange juice in her breakfast coffee.

Jesse, the scientist, appeared to be puttering around in his garden absentmindedly, but he was really distracted because he was thinking about a new scientific formula.

absentmindedness, absent-mindedness (s) (noun) (no plural)
1. A low level of attention or an intense attention to a single object of focus that makes a person unaware of what is going on around him or her: Absentmindedness is clearly a part of everyone's life when something is merely inconvenient; such as, missing a familiar turnoff on the highway or some are very serious as when absentmindedness can cause accidents, injury, or even a loss of life.

Jeff's absentmindedness caused him to be late because he took the wrong public transportation to work.

2. A preoccupation with something that is so great that the ordinary demands of attention on something are ignored: Cheryl was so lost in her absentmindedness that she was unaware of where she was or what she was supposed to be doing there.
absolute (adjective) (not comparable)
1. Perfect and complete in quality or nature: Glenn described his lady friend as an example of absolute perfection.
2. Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional, total trust: Earl told Diane that she had his absolute confidence.
3. Unqualified in extent or degree; total: Marie could hear a pin drop in the absolute silence of the room.
4. Unconstrained by constitutional, a counterbalancing group, or other provisions, etc. in the exercise of governmental power; especially, when arbitrary or despotic: James was an absolute ruler in his position as the absolute monarch.
5. Not to be doubted or questioned; positive, certain: The police have absolute proof of Philip's guilt.
6. Relating to units of measurement derived from fundamental units of length, mass, and time: The laboratory was supplied with the necessary equipment to determine the absolute temperature of the liquids.
7. Noting or pertaining to the scale of a grading system based on an individual's performance considered as representing his or her knowledge of a given subject regardless of the performance of others in a group: Jessica's absolute performance during the year qualifies her for the special graduation honors.
8. Etymology: from Latin absolutus and absolvere, "to set free, to make separate".

Logically, absolute terms cannot be compared, as with "more" and "most", or used with an "intensive modifier"; such as, "very" or "so" because something either is complete or it is not. It cannot be "more complete" than something else; consequently, sentences; such as, "Mike wanted to make his record collection more complete", and "Joyce can improve the sketch by making the lines more perpendicular", are often criticized as being illogical.

Complete and not mixed.
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absolute glaucoma (s) (noun), absolute glaucomas (pl)
Blindness that results from the increased pressure in the eyes and damage to the optic nerves: Although the composer was diagnosed with absolute glaucoma, she was determined it would not end her career.

Craig was afflicted with absolute glaucoma during the final years of his life.

absolute volt (s) (noun), absolute volts (pl)
The potential difference necessary to produce a current of one ampere through an electric circuit with a resistance of one ohm (unit of electrical resistance): Because the production of absolute current and voltage must equal mechanical power, experiments that realize the absolute volt involve mechanical effects and are inherently difficult; usually, requiring many years to complete.
absolutely (adverb) (not comparable)
Totally, definitely, beyond doubt, and without question: Iron is absolutely necessary for the production of many products.

Eugene, are you absolutely sure that we are on the right road and that we are not absolutely lost?

Victor and Martin are absolutely opposed to the idea of making any additional changes.

absolution (ab" suh LOO shuhn) (s) (noun), absolutions (pl)
1. A freeing from sin, guilt, or blame; or a declaration that frees a person from guilt or punishment for sin: The priest gave absolution to church members which always makes the parishioners feel a great deal better.
2. Release from a duty or promise; a discharge: The soldier obtained absolution from the charges made by a fellow soldier.
absolve (uhb ZOLV, uhb SOLV) (verb), absolves; absolved; absolving
1. To officially state that someone is free of any blame or responsibility in a particular matter: Mr. Johnson, the lawyer, could not get the court to absolve his client of responsibility for the accident.

Because new evidence had been discovered, Rick, the defendant was absolved of the criminal charge.

2. To forgive someone; especially, for a religious or moral fault: Mary asked the priest to please absolve her of her sins.
3. To relieve a person of some kind of requirement or obligation: The court absolved Ernest of the responsibility of any further repayments of the loan.

At the board meeting that day, they agreed that they would be absolving the company of any charges of misdeeds.

Bert was absolved of having to pay his partner's debts.

4. Etymology: from Latin ab-, "from" + solvere, "to loosen".
To set free from consequences of doing something.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
for a list of additional Mickey Bach illustrations.

absolver (s) (noun), absolvers (pl)
Someone who has authority to pronounce a person clear of guilt or blame: The priest was an absolver of the sins of Phillip who had strived to overcome his moral indiscretions and petty misdeeds.
absorb (verb), absorbs; absorbed; absorbing
1. To swallow up, to include or to take a thing into the loss of its separate existence; to incorporate: In one gulp, the whale seemed to absorb all the krill.

The company absorbed the two smaller companies creating one large conglomerate.

2. To engross, or to completely engage the attention or faculties: The students were completely absorbed by the magic of the teacher's story telling.
3. To take up or to receive (imponderable agents) by chemical or molecular action: Not long after Howard swallows his vitamins, they will be absorbed into his blood stream.
4. To assume the burden of costs, expenses, etc.: The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, will personally absorb the small financial loss in order to continue to keep their company solvent.
5. To take in (a shock, jolt, etc.) with little or no recoil or reaction: The soft surface seemed to absorb the impact of the hammer.
6. To soak up and not to reflect: Carlos, the builder, told them that the light rays are absorbed by black surfaces and he also said that cork ceilings absorb sound.
7. Etymology: from Latin absorbere, "to swallow up"; from ab-, "from" + sorbere, "to suck in".