Based on a limited sample of native Russian-speaking friends, I've come to understand that the adverb "абсолютно" used as a sentence-word in a response is synonymous with "no" as in:

-- Неужели Вы врали?

-- Абсолютно!

More recently I've come to doubt that this usage is as widely understood as I thought, and it probably depends on context. I would appreciate some clarification and possibly some linguistic reference similar to this article https://refdb.ru/look/2896246-pall.html which, ironically, deals with a similar problem in English.


The adverb абсолютно doesn't have a negative connotation. It is a degree adverb meaning полностью, совсем, совершенно and can be used only in terms of confirmation either of positive or negative information. Consider the following examples.

  1. – А он честный человек ?

– Абсолютно.(positive) (– Is he a reliable person? - Absolutely/Sure.)

2.– Скажешь, это невозможно?

– Абсолютно.(negative) (You'd say It's impossible, right? - Absolutely.)

  • The second example sounds OK to me (since абсолютно невозможно is a proper combination) while the reply in the first one doesn't seem perfect: it is equivalent to абсолютно можно which is too informal (the question matching the reply better could be like this: во всем ли на него можно положиться? The complete answer = абсолютно во всём). – Alex_ander Feb 27 '17 at 8:33

The reply doesn't sound correct to me here (it should be smth. like Безусловно instead), it sounds as informal as "я вам абсолютно врал" (as if it were a literal translation from English; proper version: безусловно, я вам врал). The word абсолютно is almost never used as an adverb on its own and is mainly combined with adjectives, e. g. абсолютно голый (- Он что, был голый? - Абсолютно!)*. And I can't think of an example, where абсолютно could be used as a reply confirming something negated indirectly.

P.S. *Such a short reply is also possible to a question with (абсолютно) всё or ничего (not a verb) in focus, since абсолютно всё и абсолютно ничего are correct combinations:

-- Неужели ваша собака всё понимает? -- Абсолютно (всё).

With direct negation:

-- Он что, ничего не понял? -- Абсолютно (ничего).

  • just for OP's information, for me, the response абсолютно sounds perfectly normal in that example. – Dmitry Koroliov Feb 27 '17 at 21:27

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