\ 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 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 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun D’Angelo, who could have easily been cast as a soulless killer, instead is a middle-aged man who has just lost his adult daughter to cancer. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 31 July 2022 The amendment would issue adult-use cannabis cultivation and dispensary licenses to businesses that already hold licenses under the state's medical marijuana program, followed by an additional 40 licenses chosen by a lottery. Stephen Simpson, Arkansas Online, 30 July 2022 The family of a man who died two weeks after he was injured in a melee at an Oxnard adult soccer league match is seeking the public’s help in piecing together the brawl. Los Angeles Times, 30 July 2022 They were cited for underage consumption of alcohol and released to a sober adult. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, 30 July 2022 Four bagpipers in tartan kilts marched in train with vintage cars, an assortment of kids in wagons, and an adult in a Captain America costume. Peter Slevin, The New Yorker, 30 July 2022 Bisexual people, who make up 57% of the USA's adult LGBTQ population, face a unique form of bias – even within their own community – that can have far-reaching implications, particularly on health issues, advocates say. Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, 30 July 2022 In the play, Sorkin divides the narration between three adult characters — Scout, her brother Jem and their best friend Dill, looking back on the past — and creates a more complex portrayal of Finch. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 30 July 2022 Along with Green Day and Metallica, adult headliners include Dua Lipa and J. Cole. Jake Sheridan, Chicago Tribune, 30 July 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

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Adult.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 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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