The Meaning of Absentia: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of absentia? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word absentia, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word absentia mean?

According to Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the term in absentia is an adverb or adjective that means in absence. This is most often used in legal systems when referring to someone being absent from a legal trial. This usually refers to a defendant or defendants who are not present in court. They would be known as being tried in absentia. This is often used as a criticism of a criminal trial. If the defendant is not present in court, the lawyer or judge would refer to them as being tried in absentia. Some immigration or migrant cases including family members with open asylum cases are closed in absentia. Conviction in this case could be considered a violation of natural justice. This term can also be used when a defendant escapes after the trial has begun.

According to US Legal, due to the sixth amendment, these trials rarely occur because in the United States they have a Constitutional right to face one’s accusers. Absentia has four syllables – ab-sen-ti-a, and the pronunciation of absentia is ab-sensh-ee-ə. Do you think that trials where a defendant is in absentia are unconstitutional? Do you think it depends on the situation? This is a complex legal issue, and is a contentious point of discussion for many.

The word absence is also present in many other languages around the world. In this list of translations of absence from Word Sense, you may notice that many of these words look and sound similar to the word absence. These are called cognates, which are words in different languages that look and sound similar, and also have a similar or the same meaning. These are often formed when two words in different languages have the same root or language of origin, such as Latin or Greek. 

  •  Finnish: poissaolo‎; ero‎
  •  Bulgarian: отсъствие‎
  •  Maori: hōneatanga‎
  •  Belarusian: адсу́тнасць‎ (fem.)
  •  Polish: nieobecność‎ (fem.)
  •  Interlingua: absentia‎
  •  Mandarin: 缺席‎ (quēxí), 不在‎ (bùzài)
  •  Asturian: ausencia‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: ausencia‎ (fem.)
  •  Japanese: 欠席‎ (kesseki), 不在‎ (fuzai)
  •  Esperanto: foresto‎
  •  Danish: fravær‎, mangel‎
  •  Russian: отсу́тствие‎ (neut.), отлу́чка‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: absență‎ (fem.)
  •  Slovene: odsotnost‎ (fem.)
  •  Swedish: frånvaro‎ (common), bortavaro‎ (common)
  •  German: Abwesenheit‎ (fem.), Absenz‎ (fem.)
  •  Turkish: yokluk‎
  •  French: absence‎ (fem.)
  •  Italian: assenza‎ (fem.)
  •  Nynorsk: fråvær‎ (neut.), fråvære‎ (neut.)
  •  Catalan: absència‎ (fem.)
  •  Serbo-Croatian: odsustvo‎ (neut.)
  •  Middle English: absence‎
  •  Galician: ausencia‎ (fem.)
  •  Irish: neamhláithreacht‎ (fem.), asláithreacht‎ (fem.)
  •  Lithuanian: nebuvimas‎ (masc.)
  •  Hungarian: távollét‎
  •  Bokmål: fravær‎ (neut.)
  •  Arabic: غِيَاب‎ (masc.)
  •  Czech: nepřítomnost‎ (fem.), absence‎ (fem.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: neo-làthaireachd‎ (fem.)
  •  Hindi: अनुपस्थिति‎
  •  Georgian: არდასწრება‎, გამოუცხადებლობა‎
  •  Portuguese: ausência‎ (fem.)
  •  Ido: absenteso‎
  •  Dutch: afwezigheid‎ (fem.), verstek‎ (neut.)

What is the origin of the word absentia?

According to Your Dictionary, the word absentia comes directly from the Latin absentia or absentiā, the ablative of absentia, meaning being away or absence. This comes from the present active participle of absum meaning “I am away.” Per The Free Dictionary, absentia law was used following World War II during the War Crimes trials. This was used against Nazis who had committed atrocities and then disappeared. Famously, absentia law was used to convict Martin Bormann, Hitler’s closest aide.

What are synonyms and antonyms of absentia?

There are many different words and phrases that a person can use in place of the word absentia. Since the word absentia is so heavily associated with law, it is often inappropriate to use the term in casual, everyday speech. For this, you should use a synonym. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to avoid repeating yourself, and learning synonyms can also help you expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms of absentia is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  famine
  •  unavailability
  •  nonattendance
  •  sabbatical
  •  shortfall
  •  no show
  •  insufficiency
  •  lacking
  •  drought
  •  nonappearance
  •  failure to appear
  •  lacked
  •  void
  •  scarcity
  •  deficit
  •  without
  •  hooky
  •  omission
  •  lack
  •  leave
  •  cut
  •  non-attendance
  •  scantiness
  •  non-existence
  •  truancy
  •  default
  •  vacancy
  •  deficiency
  •  nothingness
  •  lacks
  •  vacation
  •  need
  •  shortness
  •  inadequacy
  •  nihility
  •  absent
  •  missing
  •  miss
  •  want
  •  absenteeism
  •  privation
  •  poverty
  •  paucity
  •  dearth
  •  absence
  •  shortage
  •  deprivation
  •  defect
  •  nonexistence
  •  inexistence
  •  failure

There are also several different words in the English language that mean the opposite of the word absentia. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great way to expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms of absentia is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  awful lot
  •  bazillions of
  •  decent amount
  •  broad set of
  •  audience
  •  significant numbers of
  •  accessibility
  •  atmosphere
  •  considerable quantity
  •  plethora
  •  considerable quantity of
  •  broad assortment
  •  arrival
  •  blizzard
  •  presence
  •  availableness
  •  broad array of
  •  ample amounts of
  •  broad spectrum of
  •  bonanza
  •  big number of
  •  big number
  •  actuality
  •  plenty
  •  big share in
  •  attendance
  •  abundance
  •  bags of
  •  mass
  •  deluge
  •  broad assortment of
  •  find
  •  big part of
  •  existence
  •  appearance
  •  big assortment
  •  ample amount of
  •  approachability
  •  dozens of
  •  bounty
  •  attainability
  •  extensive range of
  •  big assortment of
  •  availability
  •  chores
  •  surplus
  •  concentration
  •  billions of
  •  abundance of
  •  advent

Overall, the word absentia (adj./adv.) means in absence. This often refers to the lack of presence of the defendant at a trial. Such trials are often considered a mistrial of justice because the accusers are present but the defendant is not, and cannot provide legal information. This is usually only used in a specific situation.


  1. Absentia Meaning | Best 2 Definitions of Absentia | Your Dictionary 
  2. Absentia legal definition of Absentia | The Free Dictionary 
  3. In Absentia Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc. 
  4. In Absentia | Definition of In Absentia | Merriam-Webster 
  5. Absence synonyms – 815 Words and Phrases for Absence | Power Thesaurus 
  6. Absence antonyms – 362 Opposites of Absence | Power Thesaurus 
  7. absence: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense