noun (1)
dil·​i·​gence | \ ˈdi-lə-jən(t)s How to pronounce diligence (audio) \

Definition of diligence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : steady, earnest, and energetic effort : devoted and painstaking work and application to accomplish an undertaking : assiduity showed great diligence in tracking down the story He had earned universal respect for his integrity, fairness, and diligence.— John L. Sanders
b obsolete : speed, haste Go, hence with diligence!— Shakespeare
2 law : the attention and care legally expected or required of a person (such as a party to a contract) — see also due diligence


noun (2)
di·​li·​gence | \ ˈdi-lə-ˌzhäⁿs How to pronounce diligence (audio) , ˈdi-lə-jən(t)s How to pronounce diligence (audio) \

Definition of diligence (Entry 2 of 2)

: stagecoach The railway had driven coach companies out of business …. Once, the journey had taken three days by diligence.— Graham Robb

First Known Use of diligence

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1742, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for diligence

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin diligentia, from diligent-, diligens — see diligent

Noun (2)

French, literally, haste, from Middle French, persevering application

Learn More About diligence

Time Traveler for diligence

Time Traveler

The first known use of diligence was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near diligence




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for diligence

Cite this Entry

“Diligence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diligence. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for diligence


dil·​i·​gence | \ ˈdi-lə-jəns How to pronounce diligence (audio) \

Kids Definition of diligence

: careful and continued hard work


dil·​i·​gence | \ ˈdi-lə-jəns How to pronounce diligence (audio) \

Legal Definition of diligence

: earnest and persistent application of effort especially as required by law also : care sense 1 — see also due diligence

More from Merriam-Webster on diligence

Nglish: Translation of diligence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of diligence for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about diligence


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!