I have been trying to find a word that describes a concept that is only defined by the lack for something. For example, there isn't really any such thing as cold, it is a concept we use to describe the lack of heat. So is there a word to describe the kind of word that "cold" is?
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@Matt Ellen used the word privative in this sense in his (closed) question, Is the truth a privative?
He used the word as a noun and the link from his question to the word's definition at Dictionary.com does have this:
I'm not sure how common this usage is. NOAD has this:
I would describe this as a "negative concept", or "negative definition", in the same fashion (and by analogy with) a negative right.