AskDefine | Define majority

Dictionary Definition



1 the property resulting from being or relating to the greater in number of two parts; the main part; "the majority of his customers prefer it"; "the bulk of the work is finished" [syn: bulk] [ant: minority]
2 (elections) more than half of the votes [syn: absolute majority]
3 the age at which a person is considered competent to manage their own affairs [syn: legal age] [ant: minority]

User Contributed Dictionary




From majorité.


  1. More than half (50%) of some group
    The majority agreed that the new proposal was the best.
  2. The difference between the winning vote and the rest of the votes
    The winner with 53% had a 6% majority over the loser with 47%.
  3. Legal adulthood
    By the time I reached my majority, I had already been around the world twice.


more than half
  • Bosnian: većina
  • Croatian: većina
  • Czech: většina
  • Dutch: meerderheid
  • Finnish: enemmistö
  • French: majorité
  • German: Mehrheit
  • Italian: maggioranza
  • Polish: większość
  • Romanian: majoritate
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: већина
    Roman: većina
  • Slovene: večina
  • Spanish: mayoría
  • Swedish: majoritet
difference between the winning vote and the rest of the votes
legal adulthood
  • French: majorité
  • German: Erwachsenenalter
  • Italian: maggiore età
  • Romanian: majorat


Extensive Definition

''This article is about the mathematical concept of majority. For the various legal definitions of adulthood, see Age of majority.
A majority, also known as a simple majority in the U.S., is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. This should not be confused with a plurality, which is a subset having the largest number of parts. A plurality is not necessarily a majority, as the largest subset may be less than half of the entire group.
For example, in a hypothetical group of 40 athletes there are:
In this group, a majority would consist of more than half the total number of athletes, or 21 athletes. The group of all ball sport players together (15 football players + 6 table tennis players = 21) comprise a majority. However, football players, 15 in number, comprise a plurality, not a majority.

Parliamentary rules

In parliamentary procedure (the "rules of order" concerning the conduct of business in a deliberative body), the term 'majority' refers to "more than half." As it relates to a vote, a majority is more than half of the votes cast (noting that an abstention is simply the refusal to vote).
A common error is to list a majority as being "one more than half" or "fifty percent plus one". This is incorrect when there is an odd number of votes cast. When there are 51 votes cast, half is 25.5. So, only 26 votes is needed, not 26.5 votes.
The definition of "majority vote" can differ, however from one parliamentary authority to another. Robert's Rules of Order, (abbreviated RONR) defines a majority as being more than one half of the votes cast including votes cast for an ineligible candidate, or improper choice (e.g. a vote of "maybe" on a yes or no vote); these votes referred to as "illegal votes cast by legal voters." The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (abbreviated TSC) defines a majority as being more than half of the "legal" votes cast .
For example, assume that votes are cast for three people for an office, Mr. A, Ms. B, and Wimpy the Gerbil (who is ineligible). The vote totals are:
  • Total votes cast - 20
  • Mr. A - 9 votes
  • Ms. B - 8 votes
  • Wimpy the Gerbil (ineligible) - 3 votes
Using the definition in RONR, no candidate has a majority and no candidate is elected; 20 votes cast, a majority (in whole numbers) is 11 and no candidate received 11. Using the definition in TSC, Mr. A is elected; 20 cast, 3 illegal, 17 legal, with a majority of legal votes cast (in whole numbers) being 9.
In politics, political voting systems, and even in parliamentary procedure in some cases, there are several different popular concepts relating to a majority:
These concepts are not to be confused with the concept of a majority as understood in parliamentary procedure, which is a common error. While they do have counterparts in parliamentary procedure, in it they are undefined as termed, and their discussion is beyond the scope of this article.

Comparison of 'simple majority' with other terms

A simple majority does not include abstentions or absent members. It is more strict than a plurality vote, but less strict than an absolute majority vote (which in countries other than the U.S. still simply means more than half, though the simpler American term "majority" is becoming increasingly popular). It is the most common requirement in voting for a measure to pass, especially in deliberative bodies and small organizations. In parliamentary procedure, the unqualified term "majority" has this meaning, and the usage "simple majority" is discouraged.


Consider three propositions: A, B, and C, that are proposed in a club of 100 members. In order for a proposition to be successful, a simple majority must agree to it. The results of the election are:
  • 30 votes for proposition A
  • 50 votes for proposition B
  • 10 votes for proposition C
  • 10 votes are blank
Since there are more votes for B than there are votes for both A and C combined, B has the simple majority, and so wins. That is, the votes for B make up more that 50% of the total counted votes (90). If all the votes were considered, including the 10 blank votes, as in an absolute majority vote, then B would not have a majority. Abstentions and non-voters do not affect a simple majority process, since they neither support nor oppose. They affect only an absolute majority.
In an election for president in the same club having candidates Jim, Bob, Sally, and Bridget, the results are as follows:
  • 20 votes for Jim
  • 20 votes for Bob
  • 40 votes for Sally
  • 2 votes for Bridget
In this election, no one has more votes than the combined votes of the opponents, so no one wins. Sally's 40 votes do not make up more than 50% of the total number of votes. In a case like this, most systems would either adopt a plurality rule or would have a second ballot with all of the candidates present, unless the organization's bylaws specify otherwise (as is commonly done to create a runoff election).
Tie votes do not meet simple majority because not more than half of the votes cast approve, so ties are classfied as failures.
majority in Czech: Většina
majority in German: Mehrheit
majority in Indonesian: Mayoritas
majority in Italian: Maggioranza
majority in Japanese: マジョリティ
majority in Norwegian: Majoritet
majority in Polish: Większość względna
majority in Portuguese: Maioria
majority in Russian: Большинство
majority in Simple English: Majority
majority in Swedish: Majoritet

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accomplishment, adulthood, adultness, age of consent, ascendancy, best part, better part, body, bulk, deanship, driving age, essence, excellence, favor, flower of age, full age, full bloom, full growth, fullgrownness, generality, gist, gravamen, greatness, grown-upness, incomparability, inimitability, lead, legal age, legalis homo, main body, major part, manhood, manlihood, mass, mature age, maturity, meat, more than half, most, one-upmanship, plurality, precedence, predominance, predomination, preeminence, preponderance, preponderancy, prepotence, prepotency, prerogative, prestige, prime, prime of life, priority, privilege, right-of-way, ripe age, riper years, seniority, skill, substance, success, superiority, the greatest number, thrust, toga virilis, transcendence, transcendency, virility, virtuosity, womanhood, womanlihood, years of discretion
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