1 being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value : add equal amounts of water and flour | 1 liter is roughly equal to 1 quart. See note at same .
• (of people) having the same status, rights, or opportunities.
• uniform in application or effect; without discrimination on any grounds : a dedicated campaigner for equal rights.
• evenly or fairly balanced : it was hardly an equal contest.
2 [ predic. ] ( equal to) having the ability or resources to meet (a challenge) : the players proved equal to the task.
a person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality : we all treat each other as equals | it was a day without equal in market history.
verb ( equaled |ˈikwəld|, equaling |ˈikwəlɪŋ|; also chiefly Brit. equalled, equalling) [ trans. ]
be the same as in number or amount : four plus six divided by two equals five | the total debits should equal the total credits.
• match or rival in performance or extent : he equaled the world record of 9.93 seconds.
• be equivalent to : his work is concerned with why private property equals exploitation.
( the) first among equals the person or thing having the highest status in a group.
other (or all) things being equal provided that other factors or circumstances remain the same : it follows that, other things being equal, the price level will rise.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin aequalis, from aequus ‘even, level, equal.’
USAGE It is widely held that adjectives such as equal and unique have absolute meanings and therefore can have no degrees of comparison. Hence they should not be modified, and it is incorrect to say more equal or very unique on the grounds that these are adjectives that refer to a logical or mathematical absolute. For more discussion of this question, see usage at unique .