1 of 5

adjective (1)

: highly valued : precious
a dear friend
Our friendship is very dear to me.
ran for dear life
often used in a salutation
dear Sir
: high or exorbitant in price : expensive
eggs are very dear just now
: heartfelt
our dearest prayers
obsolete : noble
dearness noun


2 of 5


: dearly sense 3
the effort cost them dear
: dearly sense 1
so dear I loved the manWilliam Shakespeare


3 of 5


: a loved one : sweetheart
How was your day, dear?
: a lovable person
Be a dear and get me a drink.


4 of 5


used especially to express annoyance or dismay
Oh dear!


5 of 5

adjective (2)

: severe, sore
in our dear perilWilliam Shakespeare

Examples of dear in a Sentence

Noun Be a dear and take this for me.
Recent Examples on the Web
As the moon and Neptune harmonize, explore a spiritual study dear to your heart. USA TODAY, 7 Jan. 2024 Thomas’s purpose and intention for this brunch was to honor and celebrate a film he’s held dear to him since childhood. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 4 Dec. 2023 The Puerto Rican hitmaker was spotted gifting one of his sparkly necklaces to a young fan who couldn’t hold back the dears as his idol gave him this special gift. Griselda Flores, Billboard, 29 July 2023 There was also a giant model of Iron Man, a Marvel superhero dear to Dr. Howard. Noreen Malone, New York Times, 1 June 2023 Such are the changes in language and culture over time, a subject dear to the pen of Valerie Fridland, a professor of linguistics at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dave Shiflett,, 11 May 2023 Barbie will also donate $25,000 to Asian American LEAD, a nonprofit dear to Wong that serves low-income and underserved Asian Pacific American youth. Christopher Brito, CBS News, 1 May 2023 See you tomorrow, my dear. Marion Renault, The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2022 Dont go there, my dear, said John. New York Times, 14 Oct. 2022
Luck is on your side this week, Gemini, as a remarkable door could open that leads you to celebrate a victory dear to your heart. Kyle Thomas, Peoplemag, 7 Apr. 2024 And a dear friend of mine who was going to be putting it on, Jake Garber, who’s one of the best special effects makeup guys in the business. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 4 Apr. 2024 So, dear reader, have fun adjusting the electorate and seeing just how the election could play out under different circumstances. Geoffrey Skelley, ABC News, 4 Apr. 2024 Rest in peace dear friend, you will be deeply missed. Michaela Zee, Variety, 3 Apr. 2024 Rest in peace, dear friend, you will be deeply missed. Nick Romano,, 1 Apr. 2024 On Monday, Parker's dearest friends and castmates turned to Instagram to pay tribute to the actress and her latest trip around the sun. Esther Kang, Peoplemag, 26 Mar. 2024 On this early spring evening, dear reader, I was saved by the sticker. Mary Ramsey, Charlotte Observer, 26 Mar. 2024 Are my feelings valid? — MOURNING IN MISSOURI DEAR MOURNING: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your dear mother. Jeanne Phillips, The Mercury News, 14 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dear.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective (1), Adverb, Noun, and Interjection

Middle English dere, from Old English dēore; akin to Old High German tiuri distinguished, costly

Adjective (2)

Middle English dere, from Old English dēor — see dear entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1694, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dear was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near dear

Cite this Entry

“Dear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: highly valued : precious
used as a form of address in letters and sometimes in speech
Dear Sir
: high-priced : expensive
: deeply and earnestly felt
my dearest wish
dear adverb
dearly adverb
dearness noun


2 of 2 noun
: a loved one : darling

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