a. Relating to, based on, or involving comparison.
b. Of or relating to the scientific or historical comparison of different phenomena, institutions, or objects, such as languages, legal systems, or anatomical structures, in an effort to understand their origins or relationships.
2. Estimated by comparison; relative: a comparative newcomer.
3. Grammar Of, relating to, or being the intermediate degree of comparison of adjectives, as better, sweeter, or more wonderful, or adverbs, as more softly.
1. The comparative degree.
2. An adjective or adverb expressing the comparative degree.
Our Living Language Speakers of vernacular dialects often use double comparatives and superlatives such as more higher and most fastest. Although such constructions may seem redundant or even illogical, standard and nonstandard varieties of all languages are replete with such constructions. In English the redundant comparative dates back to the 1500s. Prior to this, in Old and Middle English, suffixes, rather than a preceding more or most, almost always marked the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs, regardless of word length. In the Early Modern English period (c. 1500-1800), more and most constructions became more common. The Modern English rule governing the distribution of -er/-est and more/most had not yet arisen, and such forms as eminenter, impudentest, and beautifullest occurred together with constructions like more near, most poor, and most foul. Double markings were commonly used to indicate special emphasis, and they do not appear to have been socially disfavored. Even Shakespeare used double comparatives and superlatives, as in Mark Antony's statement "This was the most unkindest cut of all" from Julius Caesar. Nowadays, although double comparatives and superlatives are not considered standard usage, they are kept alive in vernacular dialects. See Notes at might2, plural.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.