\ ə-ˈdəlt How to pronounce adult (audio) , ˈa-ˌdəlt How to pronounce adult (audio) \

Definition of adult

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : fully developed and mature : grown-up an adult lion
2 : of, relating to, intended for, or befitting adults an adult approach to a problem
3 : dealing in or with explicitly sexual material adult bookstores adult movies



Definition of adult (Entry 2 of 3)

: one that is adult especially : a human being after an age (such as 21) specified by law


adulted; adulting; adults

Definition of adult (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 informal : to behave like an adult : to attend to the ordinary tasks required of a responsible adult Do we really have to adult today?— Lauren Merola Stop complaining that you have to adult today. Being an adult is awesome.— Suzanne Lucas Learning how to "adult" is a necessity for these college freshmen in order to figure out new medication schedules and if their parents' insurance will cover impromptu ER visits.— Meredith Newman
2 informal : to become an adult It could be something small, like bailing on your friends at the last second. Or something bigger, like not showing up for work. Whatever the case may be, it's a sign you haven't fully "adulted" if you constantly slack off on your responsibilities.— Carolyn Steber But there is one real benefit to growing older and adulting: We essentially get to do whatever we want to do.— Sharon Pope

Other Words from adult


adulthood \ ə-​ˈdəlt-​ˌhu̇d How to pronounce adult (audio) \ noun
adultly \ ə-​ˈdəlt-​lē How to pronounce adult (audio) , ˈa-​ˌdəlt-​ \ adverb
adultness \ ə-​ˈdəlt-​nəs How to pronounce adult (audio) , ˈa-​ˌdəlt-​ \ noun


adultlike \ ə-​ˈdəlt-​ˌlīk How to pronounce adult (audio) \ adjective


adulting noun, informal
True financial adulting goes beyond paying your bills on time. It's also about planning for the future. — Mary Crawley Adulting does not have to be scary. Some students … feel as though they are comfortable with their ability to live on their own. But for those who do not, Residence Life at Elizabethtown College will hold another series of adulting sessions after Spring Break. These will be open to all students to try to help ease the transition out of college. — Meghan Kenney

Synonyms & Antonyms for adult

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of adult in a Sentence

Adjective preparing children for adult life We need to approach this in an adult way. Noun Her books appeal both to children and to adults. Children must be accompanied by an adult in the museum. Only adults can purchase alcohol. This film is for adults only. Minors are not admitted. People who are close friends as children aren't always friends as adults. studying interactions between young birds and adults See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For all its sprinklings of pixie dust — a wiggly scorpion samba, a cyclone of flying pastries — the movie is often disconcertingly adult, and at the same time, largely unconcerned with welcoming in viewers not already steeped in the mythology. Leah Greenblatt,, 7 Apr. 2022 Those health effects are not a recent discovery, according to Dr. Ari Cedars, a professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine with expertise in adult congenital heart disease. Nayeli Lomeli, USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2022 Medical use comprised $703 million of the sales while $528 million was made from adult recreational purchases, the Department of Revenue's website states. Stephanie Wenger,, 25 Jan. 2022 Constellation's research says the that adult alternative beverages, which includes ready-to-drink cocktails, represent an $8 billion market and will continue to grow. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, 6 Jan. 2022 The justice department said Manson can hold from 200 to 300 young men, including those who have been transferred from juvenile court to the adult criminal court system because of the seriousness of their offenses. Edmund H. Mahony,, 21 Dec. 2021 As of June, 33% of the adult Black population reported vaccine hesitancy to some degree, significantly higher than the 19% of the white population and 25% of non-Black people of colour. Alicia Lue,, 19 Oct. 2021 According to Phoenix Police Department, the adult female passenger of the Nissan sedan was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead. Haleigh Kochanski, The Arizona Republic, 2 Jan. 2022 Non-adult businesses, however, are allowed to have multiple types of freestanding signs, the complaint argued. Amelia Pak-harvey, The Indianapolis Star, 10 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Townshend — who has three adult children with ex-wife Karen Astley, and who married musician Rachel Fuller in 2016 — looked for similar relief in cocaine and heroin, but found nothing worked, until sobriety. Rachel Desantis,, 6 May 2022 McIntyre and her two adult children will divide what is left of the $1 million after attorney’s fees and other costs. oregonlive, 4 May 2022 Our friends' adult children stay out several nights a week and sleep at their partners' homes — and all of them are still living at home with their parents. Washington Post, 3 May 2022 Jesse Watters Primetime' to discuss parents financially supporting their adult children, inflation and the latest tanning trends. Fox News, 30 Apr. 2022 Kurc, who has adult children and was newly single, returned to his home, in Charleston, South Carolina, put a mattress in the trunk of his car, and drove back to the border with two cameras and no return date in mind. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, 30 Apr. 2022 The brassy, dance-happy synthesis that results is no less notable 53 years later, although the band is now led by the adult children of its late founder, Juan Formell. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is believed to have killed thousands of civilians, has triggered economic sanctions that target him, his associates and now his adult children. Amy Nakamura, USA TODAY, 26 Apr. 2022 Healthcare, housing, travel, and supporting adult children – all subject to inflation –make up a lot of what seniors spend money on. Winnie Sun, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of adult


1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1655, in the meaning defined above


1909, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for adult


borrowed from French & Latin; French adulte, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Latin adultus, from past participle of adolēscere, adulēscere "to become mature, grow up," from ad- ad- + alēscere "to be nourished, grow up," probably inchoative derivative of *alēre "to grow," stative derivative of alere "to nurse, feed, nourish" — more at old entry 1


derivative of adult entry 1

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Dictionary Entries Near adult



adult alternative

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Statistics for adult

Last Updated

16 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Adult.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for adult


\ ə-ˈdəlt How to pronounce adult (audio) , ˈa-ˌdəlt \

Kids Definition of adult

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fully developed and mature adult birds



Kids Definition of adult (Entry 2 of 2)

: a fully grown person, animal, or plant


\ ə-ˈdəlt How to pronounce adult (audio) , ˈad-ˌəlt How to pronounce adult (audio) \

Medical Definition of adult

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fully developed and mature



Medical Definition of adult (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that has arrived at full development or maturity especially in size, strength, or intellectual capacity
2 : a human male or female after a specific age (as 18 or 21)



Legal Definition of adult

: a person who has reached an age specified by law — compare child, infant, minor

More from Merriam-Webster on adult

Nglish: Translation of adult for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of adult for Arabic Speakers


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