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Anglo-Norman abscence, absens, Anglo-Norman and Middle French absence (French absence) (of a person) state of being absent (beginning of the 13th cent. in Old French), want or lack of a thing (1322)


  • 1. a. The state of being absent or away from a place, or from the company of a person or persons. Also occas.: an instance of this. Freq. with possessive adjectives. Contrasted with presence. in (also during) the absence of : while is absent. conspicuous by its absence: see CONSPICUOUS adj. 2b. far absence: see FAR adj. 1a. leave of absence: see LEAVE n.1 1e.
b. in absence: while absent; with a person or people being absent. Now formal (chiefly Law): = in absentia at IN prep.2 1. decree in absence: see DECREE n. 4c.
c. An occasion on which a person is absent; a period of absence.
  • 2. Want, lack, privation, or failure of something; an instance of this. in the absence of: owing to the lack of; in view of the lack of.
  • 3. a. Inattention; failure to concentrate; mental preoccupation or abstraction; an instance of this. Freq. in absence of mind.
b. Med. Sudden, very brief loss or alteration of consciousness, sometimes with small abnormal movements of the eyelids, head, or arms, which is the typical form of seizure in petit mal and certain other forms of epilepsy; an instance of this. Freq. attrib., esp. in absence attack, absence epilepsy, absence seizure.
  • 4. A person or thing which is absent (cf. PRESENCE n. 4b). Obs. rare.

See also