mod·​ern | \ˈmä-dərn, nonstandard ˈmä-d(ə-)rən\

Definition of modern 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of the present or the immediate past : contemporary the modern American family

b : of, relating to, or characteristic of a period extending from a relevant remote past to the present time modern history

2 : involving recent techniques, methods, or ideas : up-to-date modern methods of communication

3 capitalized : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the present or most recent period of development of a language Modern English

4 : of or relating to modernism : modernist Modern art has abandoned the representation of recognizable objects.



Definition of modern (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a person of modern times or views

b : an adherent of modernism : modernist

2 : a style of printing type distinguished by regularity of shape, precise curves, straight hairline serifs, and heavy downstrokes

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Other Words from modern


modernity \ mə-​ˈdər-​nə-​tē , mä-​, -​ˈder-​ \ noun
modernly \ ˈmä-​dərn-​lē \ adverb
modernness \ -​dərn-​nəs \ noun

Examples of modern in a Sentence


Water pollution is a growing problem in the modern world. He's known as the father of modern medicine. The English that was spoken by William Shakespeare is very different from the modern English spoken today. She is learning Modern Greek. They live in one of the most modern cities in the world. modern methods of communication including e-mail and the Internet She cut her long hair for a modern look. He made his old-fashioned apartment look more modern by changing the color of the walls and buying new furniture. Their latest movie is a modern version of a classic children's story. She has modern ideas about dating and marriage.


the leaders of the American suffragists were originally regarded by many people as uppity moderns who should have stayed in their place
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Carter is head of the Impressionist and modern art department at Christie’s in New York. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘Empress’ Review: Light of the Mughal World," 13 July 2018 Robin Hill Coconut Grove is undergoing a facelift, with several condo projects and the redesign of CocoWalk into a modern open plaza with high-end retail and office space. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "A famous Italian family is opening its first Florida hotel in Coconut Grove — and soon," 26 June 2018 What emerged was a blueprint for the modern welfare state. The Economist, "The welfare state needs updating," 12 July 2018 Otherwise, the venture reads like a paint-by-numbers restaurant concept — the modern Detroit dining equivalent of the Brooklyn Bar Menu Generator. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Restaurant Review: Detroit's Empire Kitchen & Cocktails has no clothes," 12 July 2018 Trump, for his part, has given Congress more legitimate reasons to exercise its independent authority than any modern president. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Paul Ryan Unaware Constitution Lets Congress Override Presidential Veto," 12 July 2018 This isn’t the first time the effects of modern society’s nature deprivation have gotten spotlighted. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, "Massive new study review confirms nature nurtures your health," 12 July 2018 The Regulars is a photo and video column that offers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in the Bay Area, caught in routine activities of modern urban life. Jessica Christian,, "Glass bender melds art, science to create and restore neon signs," 9 July 2018 People can use a lot of chemicals to maintain a modern yard in Idaho’s high desert, and these can hurt bees and other pollinators such as butterflies and beetles. Kevin Davenport, idahostatesman, "Why are these 250,000 bees hanging out on this sweet Downtown Boise rooftop?," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For critics, the absence of the modern is compounded by a lack of stylistic purity. Anthony Alofsin, The Atlantic, "A Defense of the Suburbs," 6 June 2018 Photos courtesy of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty A crisp Donald Wexler midcentury modern is up for sale in that sunny California enclave of Palm Springs. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Nab this Donald Wexler midcentury pad in Palm Springs for $725K," 29 May 2018 For frantic moderns, silence also seems part of the comfort offered by primitive or eternal things. The Economist, "People crave silence, yet are unnerved by it," 17 May 2018 Measuring 1,774 square feet, the midcentury modern is nevertheless bright, spacious, and airy, with four bedrooms, two baths, and expansive common areas unfurling across a flowing floorplan. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Updated SoCal Eichler asks $985K," 11 May 2018 For a more recent vintage of design appreciators who can’t recall a time when midcentury modern wasn’t in vogue? Kelsey Keith, Curbed, "57 minutes with design impresario Murray Moss," 2 Apr. 2018 In Philadelphia, discerning home decor junkies will find a tapas-bar-like array of stores, covering all the spice notes from traditional antique and international contemporary to local-artisan modern and far-out exotic. Maura Sheehy, ELLE Decor, "Shopping Philadelphia," 5 July 2012 The shapes combine a mid-century modern, real-world sensibility with the glamour and detail of the Art Deco era. Marni Elyse Katz,, "Curves ahead," 30 Mar. 2018 Custom upholstery, knobs and accessories give the interior a splash of mid century modern, and the outside holds its own just fine! Katina Beniaris, Country Living, "This Colorful Little Camper Is Exactly What Your Next Camping Trip Needs," 24 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'modern.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of modern


1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for modern


Late Latin modernus, from Latin modo just now, from modus measure — more at mete


see modern entry 1

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Statistics for modern

Last Updated

30 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for modern

The first known use of modern was in 1585

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More Definitions for modern



English Language Learners Definition of modern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to the present time or the recent past : happening, existing, or developing at a time near the present time

: of or relating to the current or most recent period of a language

: based on or using the newest information, methods, or technology



English Language Learners Definition of modern (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who has modern ideas, tastes, or attitudes

: a modern artist or writer


mod·​ern | \ˈmä-dərn \

Kids Definition of modern

1 : of or characteristic of the present time or times not long past modern machinery

2 : of a style or way of thinking that is new and different modern ideas

3 : having a style that is newer and different from older, more traditional styles modern dance

4 : of the period from about 1500 to the present modern history

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More from Merriam-Webster on modern

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for modern

Spanish Central: Translation of modern

Nglish: Translation of modern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of modern for Arabic Speakers

Comments on modern

What made you want to look up modern? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

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