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 There’s something very compelling about the immediacy and urgency of adolescence. Keely Weiss, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jenny Han Hopes You Find Comfort in the Fantasy of To All the Boys," 11 Feb. 2021 In this series of personal essays, journalist and activist George M. Johnson covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, consent and Black joy while also exploring his childhood, adolescence and college years. Lamar Dawson, NBC News, "The 20 best LGBTQ books to gift this holiday season," 13 Dec. 2020 Four friends in a small coastal town help each other cope with adolescence. Ben Flanagan |, al, "29 shows about family you should stream this Thanksgiving," 25 Nov. 2020 Some people develop those anatomical traits in adolescence or childhood, while others are born with them. Shefali Luthra, USA TODAY, "Boston Children’s Hospital will no longer perform two types of intersex surgery on children," 22 Oct. 2020 And then there was Ramon Rayan, 16 and shyly feeling his way through adolescence. Washington Post, "Three young deaths. A vow to bring justice. And a test for Iraq’s new leader.," 4 Oct. 2020 Day care is a godsend for the youngest children, Lahey said, and the oldest children can take care of themselves — but in the ages between day care and adolescence, a parent can’t just leave a child alone to pick up a last-minute shift. Washington Post, "The first millennials turn 40 on Jan. 1. That’s old enough to sue for age discrimination.," 29 Dec. 2020 Neither the polluted air nor the wildfires punctuating Maddie’s adolescence are random. Brian Contreras, Los Angeles Times, "For young Californians, climate change is a mental health crisis too," 27 Dec. 2020 This time, Ferrante zooms in on adolescence, following a girl named Giovanna who has learned that the adults in her life often lie, whether out of selflessness or self-preservation. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, "The 15 Best Books of 2020," 24 Dec. 2020

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

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Adolescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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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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Comments on adolescence

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