| Definition -
The degree of an adjective or adverb where it expresses a simple quality without any qualification or comparison.
1. As opposed, for example, to the comparative and superlative degrees which are used to perform comparisons.
Bill is tall. (positive degree)
Bob is taller than Bill. (comparative)
But Dave is the tallest of the three. (superlative)
Oxford English Dictionary - The term's first citation in its grammatical sense is from circa 1447:
"Be twyx them tweyn owyth no more to be Than is be twyn a posatyve and a comparatyve degre."
(O. Bokenham Seyntys (Roxb.) 161)