dil·​i·​gent ˈdi-lə-jənt How to pronounce diligent (audio)
: characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort : painstaking
a diligent worker
diligently adverb

Did you know?

You're more likely to be diligent about something if you love doing it. The etymology of diligent reflects the fact that affection can lead to energetic effort. The word, which entered English in the 14th century by way of Anglo-French, descends from the Latin verb diligere, meaning "to value or esteem highly" or "to love." The Latin diligere was formed by adding the di- prefix (from dis-, "apart") to the verb legere, an ancestor of the English legend, meaning "to gather, select" or "to read." Of course, you don't need to care for the task at hand in order to be diligent, but it certainly does help!

Choose the Right Synonym for diligent

busy, industrious, diligent, assiduous, sedulous mean actively engaged or occupied.

busy chiefly stresses activity as opposed to idleness or leisure.

too busy to spend time with the children

industrious implies characteristic or habitual devotion to work.

industrious employees

diligent suggests earnest application to some specific object or pursuit.

very diligent in her pursuit of a degree

assiduous stresses careful and unremitting application.

assiduous practice

sedulous implies painstaking and persevering application.

a sedulous investigation of the murder

Examples of diligent in a Sentence

The American intelligence community's single greatest failing is its lack of good "humint"—human intelligence, the dirty, diligent, shoe-leather penetration of terror networks. Johanna McGeary, Time, 15 Oct. 2001
Like any diligent foreign correspondent, he attends the briefings and collects face time with the officials, but he knows it's the citizens (the upstanding as well as the jailers, the whores, the black marketeers and the smugglers) who tell the truth … Rolling Stone, 19 Sept. 1996
He was a fourth-year drama student at UCLA and diligent about such valuable actorly exercises as eavesdropping, spying, and telling complicated lies to fellow passengers on airplanes. Michael Chabon, A Model World and Other Stories, 1991
In spite of diligent work as editor, hack writer, sea captain, and assorted other trades, he wound up poor. Monroe K. Spears, American Ambitions, 1987
a student who has been unceasingly diligent in pursuit of a degree in mathematics
Recent Examples on the Web Our location scout Giannis [Sotiropoulos] was ever diligent in finding these little gems of the place. Kaitlin Menza, Condé Nast Traveler, 7 Sep. 2023 Police are warning residents and travelers ahead of Labor Day weekend to be diligent. Molly Walsh | Mwalsh@cleveland.com, cleveland, 30 Aug. 2023 From eastern Washington to northern Colorado, ranchers in wolf country are forced to stay diligent about protecting their herds. Katie Hill, Outdoor Life, 23 Aug. 2023 Thanks to Ramsey’s diligent work, the crack era no longer feels distant and fragmented. Zachary Siegel, Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2023 Some cops are corrupt, as many leaders have been, but Hermes is a diligent and dedicated counterexample. Peter Debruge, Variety, 12 Aug. 2023 Scherzer worked with pitching coach Mike Maddux, another diligent prep and scouting report guy, in Washington for two years. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 16 Aug. 2023 This apparently effortless style was the subject of diligent exposition, most famously in Lisa Birnbach’s surprise 1980 bestseller, The Official Preppy Handbook, but also in the catalogs that diffused the look and instructed in its attendant lifestyle in the 1980s and ’90s. Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, The New Republic, 14 Aug. 2023 The residents are diligent about mowing and watering, cleaning out the garage, touching up the paint on their shutters. Charles McGrath, The New Yorker, 7 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin diligent-, diligens, from present participle of diligere to esteem, love, from di- (from dis- apart) + legere to select — more at legend

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of diligent was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near diligent

Cite this Entry

“Diligent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diligent. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


dil·​i·​gent ˈdil-ə-jənt How to pronounce diligent (audio)
: showing steady and earnest care and effort : painstaking
a diligent search
a diligent worker
diligently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on diligent

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