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



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

Other Words from serial


serially \ ˈsir-​ē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce serial (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
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The series centers on Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria), who is a famed major league baseball announcer but suffers an embarrassing on-air meltdown due to his wife’s serial infidelity. Toby Grey, BGR, 16 Sep. 2022 For listeners fascinated by the psyches of the world's most prolific, serial murderers, try tuning into Serial Killing: A Podcast. Seventeen, 14 Sep. 2022 Both launches came to nothing as serial technical glitches kept the engines quiet and the hardware motionless. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 9 Sep. 2022 Unlike the one-off hybrid propulsion found in custom yards, Wider plans to take a serial production approach to electric power with all of its yachts. Julia Zaltzman, Robb Report, 5 Aug. 2022 Some economists worry that Chinese lenders are repeating mistakes made by Western lenders in the 1980s, when serial debt restructurings were common, saddling countries with unmanageable debt loads and delaying reckonings. Jason Douglas, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2022 Baur, who reports to Marcus Ammon, has a remit which includes the development and production of serial formats. Patrick Frater, Variety, 8 Sep. 2022 During Eric Rudolph's five years on the lam, despite a nationwide manhunt and a million-dollar bounty, a transient appears to have come closer to catching the serial bomber than did any federal agent. Blake Morrison, USA TODAY, 2 Sep. 2022 At the very least, Zatko offers the kind of credibility and trustworthiness that Musk, a serial exaggerator trashposter, sorely lacks. Allison Morrow, CNN, 30 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In its early years, the serial was known for its bold yet intimate storylines, including a groundbreaking interracial romance in the 1970s. Meredith Blakestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2022 But, likely prompted by the popularity of the story, Collodi resumed the serial the next year. Anna Momigliano, The Atlantic, 12 Sep. 2022 In the finale, the Hawkins kids stage a two-pronged assault on serial-killing brainwizard Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). Darren Franich,, 5 July 2022 The committee ends with a teaser of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s testimony that’s so much like a TV serial, everyone bursts out laughing. Jada Yuan, Washington Post, 13 July 2022 The internal cable interface has changed over the years from serial to IDE (now frequently called Parallel ATA, or PATA) to SCSI to Serial ATA (SATA). PCMAG, 26 Aug. 2022 Finally, the Perry Mason character and storylines were also adapted for radio as a 15-minute daily crime serial on CBS Radio that aired from 1943–1955. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, 22 Aug. 2022 Cape Cod serial killer Tony Costa, at An Unlikely Story in Plainville., 7 July 2022 Fantomas was first adapted for the big screen by into a silent crime film serial directed by Louis Feuillade for Gaumont in 1913. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 10 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of serial


1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best streaming devices.

Learn More About serial

Dictionary Entries Near serial



serial comma

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for serial

Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Serial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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

More Definitions for serial


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



Kids Definition of serial (Entry 2 of 2)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on serial

Nglish: Translation of serial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of serial for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about serial


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!