# Absolute vs. Total: What's the Difference?

Copy edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 6, 2023
“Absolute” refers to something independent, unconditional, and not relative, while “Total” refers to the whole amount or sum of all parts combined. Absolute can denote quality; Total denotes quantity.

## Key Differences

“Absolute” and “Total” are words that, while related to comprehensiveness, are used in distinct contexts and convey different meanings. “Absolute” typically refers to something that is unconditional, unrestricted, and not dependent on or relative to anything else. It is often used to describe concepts, principles, or values that are considered inherent and not subject to modification, limitation, or qualification. In contrast, “Total” is predominantly used to describe the aggregate, sum, or entirety of numerical values or quantifiable elements, emphasizing the whole amount or sum derived from adding individual parts or units.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
The usage of “Absolute” is prevalent in discussions involving philosophy, mathematics, and moral values. For instance, in mathematics, an absolute value refers to the distance of a number from zero, irrespective of direction, representing a non-relative value. “Total,” however, is ubiquitous in contexts involving computations, accounting, and statistics, where it represents the cumulative amount or the summation of individual quantities, reflecting the overall quantifiable value or count.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
Additionally, “Absolute” often implies a sense of perfection, completeness, and indisputability, expressing concepts or truths that are considered ultimate and unalterable. It can denote something that is inherent, intrinsic, and exists independently of external conditions or variations. On the other hand, “Total” strictly pertains to quantitative aggregation and does not imply intrinsic or inherent qualities. It merely reflects the cumulative result of adding individual numeric values, indicating the entire quantity or amount.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
“Absolute” can also have implications of exclusivity and supremacy, suggesting something that is ultimate, supreme, or unparalleled. It can be used to convey the idea of something being free from any restrictions, conditions, or limitations, existing in a pure and unadulterated form. In contrast, “Total” lacks such connotations of supremacy or exclusivity and remains confined to expressing the complete numeric value or full extent of quantifiable elements without denoting superiority or purity.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023
While “Absolute” can express an inherent and unmodifiable quality or state, encompassing concepts like absolute truth or absolute zero, “Total” remains focused on conveying the entirety of numeric aggregation, such as total amount or total count. The use of “Absolute” tends to be more conceptual, qualitative, and inherent, while “Total” is more practical, quantitative, and aggregative.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

## Comparison Chart

### Nature

Unconditional, inherent.
Cumulative, aggregative.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

### Usage Context

Philosophy, moral values, mathematics.
Accounting, statistics, everyday language.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

### Representational Focus

Quality, concept, principle, state.
Quantity, amount, sum, extent.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

### Connotations

Perfection, completeness, exclusivity, supremacy.
Entirety, whole, full extent, complete.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

### Modifications & Limitations

Exists independently, not subject to modifications.
Subject to addition of parts, modifiable.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

## Absolute and Total Definitions

#### Absolute

Not qualified or diminished; total.
The trust he placed in her was absolute.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Total

Complete in degree; absolute.
The statement was a total fabrication.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Existing independently of any other cause or condition.
The laws of physics are absolute.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Total

Involving all aspects or elements.
He made a total commitment to the project.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Having unrestricted power; autocratic.
The king ruled with absolute authority.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Total

An amount obtained by addition; a sum.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Unqualified in extent or degree; total
Absolute silence.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

The whole amount of something; the entirety
The storm damaged the total of the housing units.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Not limited by restrictions or exceptions
An absolute right.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Of, relating to, or constituting the whole amount; entire
The total population of the city.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Being fully such; utter
An absolute fool.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Complete; utter; absolute
Total concentration.
A total effort.
A total fool.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Unconstrained by constitutional or other provisions
An absolute ruler.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To determine the total of; add up
They totaled the applications at 600.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Not mixed; pure
Absolute oxygen.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To equal a total of; amount to
The week's receipts totaled more than \$90,000.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Not to be doubted or questioned; positive
Absolute proof.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To wreck completely; demolish
The driver survived the crash but totaled the car.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Of, relating to, or being a word, phrase, or construction that is isolated syntactically from the rest of a sentence, as the referee having finally arrived in The referee having finally arrived, the game began.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

It totals to \$25.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Of, relating to, or being a transitive verb when its object is implied but not stated. For example, inspires in We have a teacher who inspires is an absolute verb.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

An amount obtained by the addition of smaller amounts.
A total of £145 was raised by the bring-and-buy stall.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Of, relating to, or being an adjective or pronoun that stands alone when the noun it modifies is being implied but not stated. For example, in Theirs were the best, theirs is an absolute pronoun and best is an absolute adjective.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Sum.
The total of 4, 5 and 6 is 15.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Relating to measurements or units of measurement derived from fundamental units of length, mass, and time.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Entire; relating to the whole of something.
The total book is rubbish from start to finish.
The total number of votes cast is 3,270.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Relating to absolute temperature.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

(used as an intensifier) Complete; absolute.
He is a total failure.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(Law) Complete and unconditional; final
An absolute divorce.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

(mathematics) (of a function) Defined on all possible inputs.
The Ackermann function is one of the simplest and earliest examples of a total computable function that is not primitive recursive.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Something that is absolute.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

(transitive) To add up; to calculate the sum of.
When we totalled the takings, we always got a different figure.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Something regarded as the ultimate and transcendent basis of all thought and being. Used with the.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To equal a total of; to amount to.
That totals seven times so far.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Something regarded as exceeding or transcending everything else to the point of being independent and unrelated.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To demolish; to wreck completely. (from total loss)
Honey, I’m OK, but I’ve totaled the car.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Free of restrictions, limitations, qualifications or conditions; unconditional.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

(intransitive) To amount to; to add up to.
It totals nearly a pound.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Unrestricted by laws, a constitution, or parliamentary or judicial or other checks; (legally) unlimited in power, especially if despotic.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Whole; not divided; entire; full; complete; absolute; as, a total departure from the evidence; a total loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Free from imperfection, perfect, complete; especially, perfectly embodying a quality in its essential characteristics or to its highest degree.
Absolute purity, absolute liberty
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

The whole; the whole sum or amount; as, these sums added make the grand total of five millions.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Pure, free from mixture or adulteration; unmixed.
Absolute alcohol
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To bring to a total; also, to reach as a total; to amount to.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Complete, utter, outright; unmitigated, not qualified or diminished in any way.
When caught, he told an absolute lie.
An absolute denial of all charges
You're an absolute genius!
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To determine the total of (a set of numbers); to add; - often used with up; as, to total up the bill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Positive, certain; unquestionable; not in doubt.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

To damage beyond repair; - used especially of vehicles damaged in an accident; as, he skid on an ice patch and totaled his Mercedes against a tree. From total loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(archaic) Certain; free from doubt or uncertainty (e.g. a person, opinion or prediction).
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

The whole amount
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Fundamental, ultimate, intrinsic; not relative; independent of references or relations to other things or standards.
The doctrine that absolute knowledge of things is possible, an absolute principle
Absolute rights and duties are such as pertain to man in a state of nature as contradistinguished from relative rights and duties, or such as pertain to him in his social relations.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(physics) Independent of arbitrary units of measurement, standards, or properties; not comparative or relative.
Absolute velocity, absolute motion, absolute position
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Add up in number or quantity;
The bills amounted to \$2,000
The bill came to \$2,000
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Having reference to or derived in the simplest manner from the fundamental units of mass, time, and length.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Determine the sum of;
Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Relating to the absolute temperature scale (based on absolute zero); kelvin.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Constituting the full quantity or extent; complete;
An entire town devastated by an earthquake
Gave full attention
A total failure
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(grammar) Not immediately dependent on the other parts of the sentence; not in a syntactical relation with other parts of a text, or qualifying the text as a whole rather than any single word in it, like "it being over" in "it being over, she left".
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Including everything;
The overall cost
The total amount owed
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(of a case form) Syntactically connected to the rest of the sentence in an atypical manner, or not relating to or depending on it, like in the nominative absolute or genitive absolute, accusative absolute or ablative absolute.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Without conditions or limitations;
A total ban
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(of an adjective or possessive pronoun) Lacking a modified substantive, like "hungry" in "feed the hungry".
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Complete in extent or degree and in every particular;
A full game
A total eclipse
A total disaster
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Expressing a relative term without a definite comparison, like "older" in "an older person should be treated with respect".
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Constituting the whole amount or extent.
The total amount was shocking.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Positive; not graded (not comparative or superlative).
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

The total for the bill was \$50.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(of a usually transitive verb) Having no direct object, like "kill" in "if looks could kill".
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Total

Amounting to a large, inclusive sum.
The total damage was extensive.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(of Celtic languages) Being or pertaining to an inflected verb that is not preceded by any number of particles or compounded with a preverb.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(math) As measured using an absolute value.
Absolute deviation
Absolute square
Mean absolute difference
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(math) Indicating an expression that is true for all real numbers, or of all values of the variable; unconditional.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(education) Pertaining to a grading system based on the knowledge of the individual and not on the comparative knowledge of the group of students.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Independent of (references to) other arts; expressing things (beauty, ideas, etc) only in one art.
Absolute music
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Indicating that a tenure or estate in land is not conditional or liable to terminate on (strictly) any occurrence or certain kinds of occurrence.
A freehold property is an estate in fee simple absolute in possession.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(obsolete) Absolved; free.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

That which exists (or has a certain property, nature, size, etc) independent of references to other standards or external conditions; that which is universally valid; that which is not relative, conditional, qualified or mitigated.
Moral absolutes
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(geometry) In a plane, the two imaginary circular points at infinity; in space of three dimensions, the imaginary circle at infinity.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

A realm which exists without reference to anything else; that which can be imagined purely by itself; absolute ego.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

The whole of reality; the totality to which everything is reduced; the unity of spirit and nature; God.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

(chemistry) A concentrated natural flower oil, used for perfumes; an alcoholic extract of a concrete.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Loosed from any limitation or condition; uncontrolled; unrestricted; unconditional; as, absolute authority, monarchy, sovereignty, an absolute promise or command; absolute power; an absolute monarch.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Complete in itself; perfect; consummate; faultless; as, absolute perfection; absolute beauty.
So absolute she seems,And in herself complete.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Viewed apart from modifying influences or without comparison with other objects; actual; real; - opposed to relative and comparative; as, absolute motion; absolute time or space.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Loosed from, or unconnected by, dependence on any other being; self-existent; self-sufficing.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Capable of being thought or conceived by itself alone; unconditioned; non-relative.
To Cusa we can indeed articulately trace, word and thing, the recent philosophy of the absolute.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Positive; clear; certain; not doubtful.
I am absolute 't was very Cloten.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Authoritative; peremptory.
The peddler stopped, and tapped her on the head,With absolute forefinger, brown and ringed.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Pure; unmixed; as, absolute alcohol.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Not immediately dependent on the other parts of the sentence in government; as, the case absolute. See Ablative absolute, under Ablative.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

In a plane, the two imaginary circular points at infinity; in space of three dimensions, the imaginary circle at infinity.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Something that is conceived to be absolute; something that does not depends on anything else and is beyond human control;
No mortal being can influence the absolute
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Perfect or complete or pure;
Absolute loyalty
Absolute silence
Absolute truth
Absolute alcohol
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Complete and without restriction or qualification; sometimes used informally as intensifiers;
Absolute freedom
An absolute dimwit
A downright lie
Out-and-out mayhem
An out-and-out lie
A rank outsider
Many right-down vices
Got the job through sheer persistence
Sheer stupidity
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Not limited by law;
An absolute monarch
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Expressing finality with no implication of possible change;
An absolute (or unequivocal) quarantee to respect the nation's authority
Inability to make a conclusive (or unequivocal) refusal
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Without conditions or limitations;
A total ban
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Not capable of being violated or infringed;
Infrangible human rights
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Perfect, complete, pure.
Her happiness in that moment was absolute.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Absolute

Not relative or comparative; fundamental.
Absolute principles guide his decisions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

## FAQs

#### Are Absolute and Total synonymous?

No, Absolute denotes something inherent and unconditional, while Total refers to the whole amount or sum.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Absolute be used in mathematical terms?

Yes, as in absolute value, representing the distance of a number from zero on the number line.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is Total strictly related to numerical values?

Predominantly yes, it mainly denotes the sum or entirety of numeric values or quantifiable elements.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Absolute imply perfection?

Yes, it can denote something complete, perfect, and unadulterated.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is Total modifiable?

Yes, Total is subject to addition or aggregation of parts and can be modified.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Total represent completeness?

Yes, it can represent completeness in extent or degree.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is Total related to entirety?

Yes, it refers to the entire quantity, amount, or extent of something.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Absolute denote unlimited power?

Yes, it can refer to unrestricted, unlimited power or authority.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Absolute exist independently?

Yes, Absolute can exist independently and is not subject to external conditions or modifications.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is Absolute relative?

No, Absolute is not relative; it is inherent and unconditional.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Absolute represent fundamental principles?

Yes, it can represent fundamental, unalterable principles or truths.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Does Total always involve numbers?

Mostly, but it can also represent the full extent or whole of non-numeric entities.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

#### Is Total used in everyday language?

Yes, Total is commonly used to denote the whole amount or sum in everyday language.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Total imply a final sum?

Yes, Total often implies a final amount or sum after addition or aggregation.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

#### Can Absolute be fundamental?

Yes, it can represent something fundamental and foundational.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023