serial

adjective
se·​ri·​al | \ ˈsir-ē-əl How to pronounce serial (audio) \

Definition of serial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, consisting of, or arranged in a series, rank, or row serial order
2 : appearing in successive parts or numbers a serial story
3 : belonging to a series maturing periodically rather than on a single date serial bonds
4 : of, relating to, or being music based on a series of tones in a chosen pattern without regard for traditional tonality
5a : performing a series of similar acts over a period of time a serial killer
b : occurring in or involving such a series a serial murder
6 : relating to or being a connection in a computer system in which the bits of a byte are transmitted sequentially over a single wire — compare parallel

serial

noun

Definition of serial (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a work appearing (as in a magazine or on television) in parts at intervals
b : one part of a serial work : installment
2 : a publication (such as a newspaper or journal) issued as one of a consecutively numbered and indefinitely continued series

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from serial

Adjective

serially \ ˈsir-​ē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce serially (audio) \ adverb

Examples of serial in a Sentence

Adjective The pictures are numbered and arranged in serial order. Scientists made serial observations over a period of two weeks. Noun the university library has a vast collection of serials
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In addition to Shannon, at least 13 other families are coping with the shock of learning that their loved ones’ fell victim at the hands of a possible serial killer. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, "Learn how The News’ journalists reported a series on an alleged North Texas serial killer," 15 Jan. 2020 Syfy has given a straight-to-series order to Chucky, which follows the murderous exploits of the red-haired doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. Dan Snierson, EW.com, "Chucky TV series coming to Syfy," 11 Jan. 2020 As a nonchalant serial killer, Goldberg has murdered several characters throughout the show's first two seasons, with more killings taking place offscreen. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "You's Penn Badgley Can Go from Zero to Serial Killer in Mere Seconds," 11 Jan. 2020 Michael Werwie, a Milwaukee native, wrote the screenplay for this docudrama about serial killer Ted Bundy (played by Zac Efron), told from the perspective of the killer's former girlfriend (who also has a writing credit). Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "22 movies with Wisconsin ties in 2019, from 'Avengers: Endgame' and 'Captain Marvel' to 'Bombshell'," 26 Dec. 2019 But some of the more successful podcasts tell the true-life stories of serial killers, murderers, rapists and other brutal crimes. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "From killer doctors to unsolved murders, here are the most popular true crime podcasts by state," 20 Dec. 2019 Little could be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Hal Boedeker, orlandosentinel.com, "‘60 Minutes’: Prolific serial killer sketches victims; he says he slayed 12 in Florida," 4 Oct. 2019 The serial killer decapitated one of his victims, leaving her head on a shelf. cleveland.com, "NEXT:," 24 Sep. 2019 This 10-part bilingual crime thriller follows a Norwegian homicide detective tracking down an American serial killer in Norway. Washington Post, "What to watch on Wednesday: ‘Finding the Way Home’ on HBO at 9," 18 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There are thirty or so novels, countless short stories and serials, a string of hit plays. Robert Gottlieb, The New Yorker, "The Rise and Fall of Booth Tarkington," 4 Nov. 2019 The Rook has plenty to recommend it, but it often gets caught in the space between a pulpy genre thriller and a stony-faced espionage serial, too dark and constantly fighting its most promising abilities. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "A Supernatural Spy Story Goes Dark in The Rook," 2 July 2019 Old adventure serials, WWII dogfighting films, and Japanese samurai films helped form the original trilogy, but the series is a lasting testament to the power of creativity. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "What Is Star Wars Without the Skywalkers?," 23 Dec. 2019 The original trilogy cloaked age-old myths and genre tropes from Westerns, samurai films, World War II dramas and sci-fi serials in a shiny new set of fantasy armor that was both exotic and comforting. John Wenzel, The Know, "Commentary: Putting Star Wars to bed as Disney ends the 42-year “Skywalker saga”," 5 Dec. 2019 Written and directed by George Lucas, the original Star Wars drew on the epic films of John Ford, Sergio Leone, and Akira Kurosawa, as well as the hokey Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials Lucas had fallen in love with in his youth. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, "How to watch Star Wars: A New Hope," 12 Nov. 2019 The subject of a series of film serials in the late 1930s, the character was resurrected for weekly television in the 1970s and was the subject of both a feature film in the mid-aughts and a failed CBS pilot in 2016. Michael Callahan, Marie Claire, "The Timely Return of Nancy Drew," 9 Oct. 2019 Every channel and every premium subscription service is defined by its big-budget serials and binge-able content. Wired, "The Best Live TV Streaming Services," 30 Sep. 2019 It was even featured in the first full-length episode of the radio serial Calling All Cars, and in one of the early versions of True Story: The Court of Human Relations, then on NBC’s radio network. Julia Bricklin, Smithsonian, "How the ‘Blonde Rattlesnake’ Stirred Public Fascination With Female Accomplices," 24 Sep. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of serial

Adjective

1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about serial

Time Traveler for serial

Time Traveler

The first known use of serial was in 1823

See more words from the same year

Statistics for serial

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Serial.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serial. Accessed 24 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for serial

serial

adjective
How to pronounce serial (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of serial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: arranged or happening in a series
of a crime : committed many times usually in the same way
of a criminal : committing a series of crimes

serial

noun

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

: a story that is broadcast on television or radio or that is published in a magazine in separate parts over a period of time

serial

adjective
se·​ri·​al | \ ˈsir-ē-əl How to pronounce serial (audio) \

Kids Definition of serial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: arranged in or appearing in parts or numbers that follow a regular order a serial story

serial

noun

Kids Definition of serial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a story appearing (as in a magazine or on television) in parts at regular intervals

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on serial

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a feeling of well-being or elation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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