ad·​o·​les·​cence | \ ˌa-də-ˈle-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce adolescence (audio) \

Definition of adolescence

1 : the period of life when a child develops into an adult : the period from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority (see majority sense 2a) He struggled through his adolescence.
2 : the state or process of growing up
3 : a stage of development (as of a language or culture) prior to maturity

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Synonyms for adolescence


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Examples of adolescence in a Sentence

Their children are on the verge of adolescence. He struggled through his adolescence.
Recent Examples on the Web That scene was etched in my mind and became a symbol, for me, of adolescence. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, "Haruki Murakami on How Memory Can Trigger a Story," 10 Feb. 2020 The book offers its surface pleasures: an evocative portrait of adolescence to start, a mournful meditation on memory and friendships to follow. David Canfield,, "The year in books: Everything you need to know about 2019's biggest titles," 18 Dec. 2019 The hero is a brilliant 14-year-old in the South Florida projects who’s trying to make a future for himself amid poverty, trauma and pressure to join a gang—all on top of the typical humiliations of adolescence. Judy Berman, Time, "The Best New TV Characters of 2019," 6 Dec. 2019 Its depiction of the emotions guiding the inner life of a girl on the cusp of adolescence was clever and visually innovative, while its cast (including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader) was perfectly chosen. Allegra Frank, Vox, "All 21 Pixar movies, definitively ranked," 27 June 2019 Development psychologists prefer to speak of stages when describing life’s slide from childhood into adolescence and on to young adulthood, such as the onset of biological changes and shifts in social roles. Washington Post, "Are child crusaders, heroes fair game for adult critics?," 8 Jan. 2020 An increase in nearsightedness often is most rapid during early adolescence, around ages 11 to 13. Mayo Clinic News Network,, "Mayo Clinic Q&A: Understanding nearsightedness in children," 20 Nov. 2019 Teenage media use has been a particular concern because of the ubiquity of smartphones today and because adolescence is such a formative period of development. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, "Social Media Has Not Destroyed a Generation," 23 Oct. 2019 Teen boys, in comparison, experienced a shorter period of depression in late adolescence. Kathleen Mullan Harris, The Conversation, "Strong family ties during teen years can help ward off depression in later life," 7 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adolescence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of adolescence

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for adolescence

Middle English, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin adolēscentia, adulēscentia, noun derivative of adolēscent-, adolēscens adolescent entry 2

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Time Traveler for adolescence

Time Traveler

The first known use of adolescence was in the 15th century

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Statistics for adolescence

Last Updated

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Adolescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for adolescence


ad·​o·​les·​cence | \ ˌa-də-ˈle-sᵊns How to pronounce adolescence (audio) \

Kids Definition of adolescence

: the period of life between childhood and adulthood


ad·​o·​les·​cence | \ ˌad-ᵊl-ˈes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce adolescence (audio) \

Medical Definition of adolescence

1 : the state or process of growing up
2 : the period of life from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority

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