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 devotion can lead to energetic effort. The word, which entered English in the 14th century by way of Anglo-French, comes from the Latin verb diligere, meaning “to value or esteem highly” or “to love.” Diligere was formed by combining the di- prefix (from dis-, meaning “apart”) with the verb legere, meaning “to gather, select” or “to read.” Legere has itself proved to be a diligent contributor to English; its offspring include collect, lecture, legend, intelligent, and legume.

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 Nimmo was diligent about calling trainer Joe Golia immediately. Abbey Mastracco, New York Daily News, 1 July 2024 That’s been the case for Gracie, who is diligent about taking her daily allergy medications and using a rescue inhaler at the first sign of an attack. Joanne Fowler, Peoplemag, 28 June 2024 Sponsored Content Without a doubt, composing academic texts like essays, research papers or dissertations can be a daunting challenge even for the most diligent and knowledgeable student. Steven Larue, The Mercury News, 12 June 2024 Finding problems before launching is part of being diligent, says Mr. Pace. Mackenzie McCarty, The Christian Science Monitor, 31 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for diligent 

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 12 Jul. 2024.

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

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