\ 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 An important caveat: the differentiation of stem cells into new, functional neurons in the adult human hippocampus continues to be a point of active debate. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 Students drop out of his class, and his adult social circle tightens. Anna Mundow, WSJ, 26 Aug. 2022 State Police divers have recovered the body of the victim (adult female occupant of vehicle) in this incident. Matt Yan,, 31 July 2022 The other five occupants, four men and one woman, were adult Mexican citizens who were in the U.S. illegally, authorities said. Angelina Hicks, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 July 2022 Medical use of marijuana was decriminalized in California in 1996, but Dillis’ study notes its production remained mostly unregulated until 2016, when adult recreational use was legalized. Yoohyun Jung, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Nov. 2021 Every scene with the terrifically naturalistic child actors rings with some truth about pre-adult life. A.a. Dowd, Washington Post, 14 June 2022 That means most adult Americans don’t have a college degree. Zack Friedman, Forbes, 1 June 2022 Current evidence points to medicine as being more effective at reducing adult ADHD symptoms than therapy, but the research base for ADHD therapy is growing. Laura E. Knouse, The Conversation, 9 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun First responders determined that the person, an adult, was dead. Kolbie Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Sep. 2022 Where: Decatur City Hall, 402 Lee Street Northeast, Decatur. Admission: $5 weekend pass, free for children age 12 and younger accompanied by adult. Mary Colurso |, al, 15 Sep. 2022 The shot clock will be mandatory for varsity contests, and will have to be operated by an adult. Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, 15 Sep. 2022 Anyone who would like to report the abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older or disabled adult who lives in a private residence may contact DHS Adult Protective Services by calling 1-866-552-4464, then pressing 3. Henri Hollis, ajc, 14 Sep. 2022 Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 14 Sep. 2022 Authorities charged 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley as an adult on multiple counts, including murder and terrorism. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 14 Sep. 2022 An adult could rely on memory to decide, but Gaby Melian decided to go to the source: children. Ann Maloney, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2022 An adult who was severely immunocompromised and diagnosed with monkeypox died in Texas last month, but the precise cause of that death has yet to be determined. Harold Maass, The Week, 13 Sep. 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

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Adult.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 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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