adult

adjective
\ 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

adult

noun

Definition of adult (Entry 2 of 3)

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

adult

verb
adulted; adulting; adults

Definition of adult (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

informal
1 : 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 : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from adult

Adjective

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

Noun

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

Verb

adulting noun
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

grown-up, mature

Synonyms: Noun

grown-up

Antonyms: Adjective

adolescent, immature

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Investigators learned that Eastwood-Ritchey had been married and raised three now-adult children. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A newborn was left to die 26 years ago. A mother’s arrest has led to baffling new questions.," 10 June 2019 Garcia, 39, is a lifelong resident of the Southwest Side district and raised her now-adult son there as a single mother. Brian Chasnoff, ExpressNews.com, "Women clinch victory, council majority in runoffs," 8 June 2019 The citizenship of her now-adult children is not in jeopardy. Adiel Kaplan, miamiherald, "Miami grandma targeted as U.S. takes aim at naturalized immigrants with prior offenses," 9 July 2018 Pediatric cardiologist Ismée Williams discusses her young-adult novel Water In May, about a teenage girl whose newborn has a life-threatening heart condition. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "Doc's YA Novel Treats Life and Death Issues," 23 May 2018 Proceeds from the books benefited adult and family literacy programs. Michael Graczyk, The Christian Science Monitor, "Former first lady Barbara Bush remembered for wit, supportiveness," 18 Apr. 2018 Proceeds from the books benefited adult and family literacy programs. Bloomberg.com, "Former First Lady Barbara Bush in Failing Health, Spokesman Says," 16 Apr. 2018 The gaps became evident after high school, when families tried in vain to find engaging daily programs or appropriate work for their now-adult children, who yearned for meaningful ways to participate in society. Ronnie Polaneczky, Philly.com, "The anti-abortion hypocrisy of proposed pro-Down syndrome legislation | Ronnie Polaneczky," 10 Apr. 2018 And in the wake of a mass shootings that targets adults, usually victims’ husbands, wives, parents, or adult children speak for them. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors," 17 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This leaves parents with few choices for helping kids navigate an online world in which the borders between sites for adults and those for children have all but disappeared. Craig Timberg, Washington Post, "Sex, drugs, and self-harm: Where 20 years of child online protection law went wrong," 13 June 2019 The book illustrates how adults and authorities can help guide kids toward becoming considerate, productive people. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "Program invented by Klein ISD police getting statewide attention," 13 June 2019 Entry fees for children between 1 and 17 years old is $4, $5 for adults and $2 for people 55 years old and older. Adriana Ramirez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Looking to beat the heat this summer? You'll have to visit these 7 Milwaukee-area pools, splash pads and beaches.," 13 June 2019 The general fee is $33 per adult and $17 per child 5-12 (ages 4 and under are free). BostonGlobe.com, "If you go . . . The M/S Mount Washington," 13 June 2019 Southeast Asia is a dream for adults and kids alike. National Geographic, "Southeast Asia Family Journey: Vietnam to Cambodia," 12 June 2019 Admission is $7 for adults and $5 children in advance and an additional dollar at the door; free for museum members and children younger than 4. Susan Bryant, sun-sentinel.com, "Taste and drink the islands at Caribbean Village Festival in Miramar," 12 June 2019 According to the USA Swimming Foundation, and reported in the July/August 2018 issue of ESSENCE, approximately 64 percent of African-American adults and young people are not proficient swimmers. Essence, "LeBron James’ School Collaborates With Olympian Simone Manuel To Teach Youth How To Swim," 11 June 2019 The cost per round of golf is $14 for adults and $9 for kids ages 4-12. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian, "This Summer, Play Nine Holes at This ‘Art Course’ in Kansas City," 11 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of adult

Adjective

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1655, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1978, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adult

Adjective

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

Noun

derivative of adult entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about adult

Statistics for adult

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for adult

The first known use of adult was in 1531

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for adult

adult

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of adult

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fully grown and developed
: mature and sensible : not childish
: of or intended for adults

adult

noun

English Language Learners Definition of adult (Entry 2 of 2)

: a fully grown person or animal

adult

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

Kids Definition of adult

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fully developed and mature adult birds

adult

noun

Kids Definition of adult (Entry 2 of 2)

: a fully grown person, animal, or plant

adult

adjective
\ 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

adult

noun

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)

Keep scrolling for more

adult

noun

Legal Definition of adult

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on adult

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for adult

Spanish Central: Translation of adult

Nglish: Translation of adult for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of adult for Arabic Speakers

Comments on adult

What made you want to look up adult? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

having a desire to acquire more things

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!