affirmative, positive cause difficulties in their extended use, since each term has negative for its opposite and since both words may qualify identical or similar nouns. The distinctions are not clearly fixed, but tendencies in usage may be noted.
In general affirmative implies denial as its opposite, and positive implies negation, or the absence of truth, reality, or actuality as its opposite. Something that is not affirmative may be destructive; something that is not positive may be null, nonexistent, or nugatory. Hence, an affirmative philosophy either affirms accepted principles or establishes new ones, and so is opposed to negative philosophies (as skepticism and nihilism). A positive philosophy (this often equals positivism) deduces its principles from something that is evident to the senses or is from the commonsense point of view regarded as real and factual. Metaphysics is from the positivist’s point of view a negative philosophy. An investigation has an affirmative result when it confirms the hypothesis of the investigator; it has a positive result if something definite is discovered, whether the result proves or disproves the hypothesis. A person may be said to exercise an affirmative influence when he strengthens or improves something that exists or develops something better to take its place; he may be said to exert a positive influence when he affects others in definite concrete ways. A defeatist may exert a very positive influence which cannot be described as affirmative; an optimist’s attitude is affirmative, but it often fails to exert a positive influence.
Analogous words: *effective, effectual, efficacious
Antonyms: negative
Contrasted words: destroying, demolishing (see DESTROY): abolishing, annihilating, extinguishing (see ABOLISH)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • affirmative — af·fir·ma·tive /ə fər mə tiv/ adj 1: asserting the existence of certain facts esp. in support of a cause of action affirmative proof 2: resulting from an intentional act affirmative concealment 3: involving or requiring application of effort …   Law dictionary

  • affirmative — [ə fʉrm′ə tiv] adj. [ME affirmatif < L affirmativus < affirmare, AFFIRM] 1. saying that something stated is true; answering “yes” [an affirmative reply] 2. a) bold or confident in asserting [affirmative people] b) optimistic or hopeful; not …   English World dictionary

  • affirmative — AFFIRMATIVE. s. f. Proposition par laquelle on affirme. Ils sont toujours d avis différens; jamais l un ne nie une chose, que l autre ne prenne l affirmative. Sur l expédient qu on proposa, les uns surent pour l affirmative, les autres pour la… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Affirmative — Af*firm a*tive, a. [L. affirmativus: cf. F. affirmatif.] 1. Confirmative; ratifying; as, an act affirmative of common law. [1913 Webster] 2. That affirms; asserting that the fact is so; declaratory of what exists; answering yes to a question;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Affirmative — Af*firm a*tive, n. 1. That which affirms as opposed to that which denies; an affirmative proposition; that side of question which affirms or maintains the proposition stated; opposed to {negative}; as, there were forty votes in the affirmative,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • affirmative — ● affirmative nom féminin Énoncé par lequel on affirme ou approuve quelque chose : Répondre par l affirmative. ● affirmatif, affirmative (synonymes) adjectif (bas latin affirmativus) Qui marque l affirmation , l approbation Synonymes : positif… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Affirmative — can mean: *Pertaining to truth *Pertaining to an assertion *An answer that shows agreement or acceptance: see yes *Affirmative (policy debate), the team which affirms the resolutionee also*Affirmation (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • affirmative — (adj.) answering yes, mid 15c., from use in logic; from M.Fr. affirmatif (13c.), from L. affirmativus, from affirmat , pp. stem of affirmare (see AFFIRM (Cf. affirm)). As a noun from early 15c. Affirmative action positive or corrective effort by… …   Etymology dictionary

  • affirmative — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ agreeing with or consenting to a statement or request. ► NOUN ▪ an affirmative statement or word. ► EXCLAMATION chiefly N. Amer. ▪ yes. DERIVATIVES affirmatively adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • affirmative — [adj] being agreeable or assenting acknowledging, acquiescent, affirmatory, affirming, approving, complying, concurring, confirmative, confirmatory, confirming, consenting, corroborative, endorsing, favorable, positive, ratifying, supporting;… …   New thesaurus

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