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
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 Primer Potion, my dear. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 13 Aug. 2022 My dear! Vladimir Sorokin, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022
Alongside two of his friends, Ryland was nominated as a Student of the Year by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in early 2022, a cause dear to the family as Daniel’s sister, Brittany Daniel, was previously diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Francesca Gariano, Peoplemag, 20 Sep. 2023 Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and to follow me on Instagram for the latest updates of my dear fur child, Kacey. Erin B. Logan, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 Manet made no such attempts, choosing instead to subvert the rules that the 19th-century establishment held dear. Ellen Wexler, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Sep. 2023 To my dear friends, cherished family, and maybe even future friends—consider the bouquet tossed. Ruhama Wolle, Glamour, 12 Sep. 2023 The two have worked together on some of her most memorable looks, among them when Hall hosted the Oscars red carpet in 2020, and her first red carpet after her dear friend Prince’s death. Staff Author, Peoplemag, 9 Sep. 2023 Look on these pages, dear reader, and see what Chicago has going on for you! Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 8 Sep. 2023 Who was in the cast, other than Duff? Francia Raisa (Grown-ish) played Sophie's roommate, Valentina, a dear friend and stylist who's recently returned to New York from London Fashion Week, toting a new British boyfriend named Charlie. Hilary Weaver, ELLE, 2 Sep. 2023 That same day, another dear friend excitedly asked what’s next on our IVF agenda. Maressa Brown, Parents, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

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 4 Oct. 2023.

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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