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

Real tick eggs are so teeny-tiny, the entire batch is only as big as two adult female ticks. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "That Viral Photo of a “Tick Nest” Is a Hoax, According to an Entomologist," 18 Apr. 2019 But Boston Dynamics likely has more adult aspirations for Handle. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Boston Dynamics New Handle Bot Seems Destined For Warehouses," 28 Mar. 2019 Those to be honored with a royal visit include Tomorrow's Women, a charity that helps adult women improve their lives, whether with a fitness class or mental health counseling. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wore a Bright Red Coat for Her First Engagement of the Year with Prince Harry," 14 Jan. 2019 In response, on June 20, Trump issued an executive order that said migrant children could no longer be separated from their adult relatives. BostonGlobe.com, "‘Catch and release’ migrant policy reinstated," 11 July 2018 In response, on June 20, Mr. Trump issued an executive order that said migrant children could no longer be separated from their adult relatives. New York Times, "As Migrant Families Are Reunited, Some Children Don’t Recognize Their Mothers," 10 July 2018 Justice Department lawyers were planning to file a challenge to the Flores settlement, which requires the government to release children from custody and to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers, in order of preference. Washington Post, "Trump’s immigration order sparks confusion, deep concern," 22 June 2018 The Flores settlement, named for a teenage girl who brought the case in the 1980s, requires the government to release children from custody and to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers, in order of preference. Jill Colvin And Colleen Long, Indianapolis Star, "Trump signs executive order to end immigrant family separations," 20 June 2018 The police drama, which featured Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits and Kim Delaney, sparked battles with ABC advertisers, affiliates and censors over its adult content, and a FCC fine for showing a woman's bare bottom. Kim Willis, USA TODAY, "Steven Bochco, who created 'NYPD Blue' and 'Hill Street Blues,' dead at 74," 1 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That embarrassing freebie is mostly gone, but Mini has just introduced a discounted option package for college students that 9-to-5 adults can't buy. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Only Current Students, Recent Grads, and U.S. Military Can Buy This Mini," 14 May 2019 Wise, who was 16 when arrested, was convicted as an adult and served nearly 14 years at various prisons in New York state. Alex Bhattacharji, Town & Country, "When They See Us," 8 May 2019 Many young adults need a longer runway just to explore their options. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Job Advice You Wish You Knew How to Give," 6 May 2019 Now through May 13, adults will pay $17 for admission, while children pay $10. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Is a Real Life Floral Fantasy," 29 Apr. 2019 Thanks to a combination of strict regulations and low wages, three-quarters of Iowa children live in households where all adults work outside the home, but the state has lost 42 percent of its child care centers in the last five years. Chloe Angyal, Marie Claire, "The Cost of Child Care Is Crushing American Families. What Will the Presidential Candidates Do About It?," 15 Apr. 2019 As of 2016, 18 million unmarried adults were living with a partner—up a whopping 29 percent since 2007. Glamour, "13 Signs You’re Ready to Move In Together," 29 Mar. 2019 And the animation is beautiful enough that adults might just want to settle in and watch it, too. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "A dozen streamable shows and movies that kids can watch (and parents will like)," 24 Dec. 2018 Several adults in the group also previously were charged with immigration violations. Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, "128 illegal immigrants found abandoned in Arizona, Border Patrol says," 2 Oct. 2018

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

18 May 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

to make a payment or contribution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!