I can be more or less hopeful about many things, gmdad. I don't believe that I've seen 'hopeful' in a list of real absolutes like 'unique, absolute, dead, genuine'.
Here is Wikipedia's take on the problem:
'A perennial issue in English usage involves the comparison of so called "absolute" adjectives, the use of terms of comparison with words that in logic are not thought to admit of comparison. There are, of course, many adjectives that admit of no comparison, chiefly because the qualities they name are either present or absent; nothing is *more Cretaceous or *more igneous. The issue arises with words such as 'perfect', which according to the prescriptivists is another quality that does not admit of comparison; either something is perfect or it is not. Since true perfection is unachievable in the sublunary sphere, people like the drafters of the Constitution of the United States are constantly saying things like 'form a more perfect union'; what they mean, of course, is 'more nearly perfect', and this is what the usage prescriptivists think they should have written. Since good writers and important leaders have used the contested form, the prescriptivists are bucking a well established usage here; in practice, the contested form is understood without error.
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