ad·​o·​les·​cence | \ˌa-də-ˈle-sᵊn(t)s \

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


minority, nonage

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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

Mid90s is really an immersive look at male adolescence and all its conflicting joys and toxicities. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Jonah Hill Makes Directing Look Easy," 30 Oct. 2018 Big League Chew is the stringy pink gum packed into a pouch that tastes like adolescence and smells like so many summers at the ballpark. David Haugh,, "Nellie Fox's card inspiration for Big League Chew: 'My dad used to say it was lightning in a pouch'," 24 May 2018 And awkward adolescence is never complete without a jumping pic with your friends at a bday party. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Here's What the Cast of "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" Looked Like When They Were Younger," 29 Aug. 2018 The actors, Vinberg foremost among them, are wonderfully unselfconscious, preoccupied not with the cliches of adolescence—looks, for one—but with less tangible qualities. Eve Macsweeney, Vogue, "Skate Kitchen Is Chock-Full of Memorable Characters," 10 Aug. 2018 But the most important shows him as a boy on the cusp of adolescence, wearing a blue suit and carrying a rifle in the pose of a huntsman. Thomas Hine,, "At Barnes, two Renoirs - father and son - share one show, diminishing the impact of both," 3 May 2018 The coming-of-age tale by Curtis Sittenfeld will bring back bittersweet memories of your own adolescence. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "The Five Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in September," 5 Sep. 2018 Many mental illnesses first manifest in adolescence. Emily Bazar, The Seattle Times, "Typical kid behavior or a mental-health problem? It can be hard to decide.," 13 Aug. 2018 Hall posited that adolescence is a psychologically distinct time of conflicting and often extreme emotions, and popularized a special term for it. Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic, "Adolescence and ‘the Happiness Dip’," 22 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for adolescence

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for adolescence

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

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More Definitions for adolescence


ad·​o·​les·​cence | \ˌa-də-ˈle-sᵊns \

Kids Definition of adolescence

: the period of life between childhood and adulthood


ad·​o·​les·​cence | \ˌad-ᵊl-ˈes-ᵊn(t)s \

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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