serious

adjective

se·​ri·​ous ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio)
1
: thoughtful or subdued in appearance or manner : sober
a quiet, serious girl
2
a
: requiring much thought or work
serious study
b
: of or relating to a matter of importance
a serious play
3
a
: not joking or trifling : being in earnest
a serious question
b
archaic : pious
c
: deeply interested : devoted
a serious musician
4
a
: not easily answered or solved
serious objections
b
: having important or dangerous possible consequences
a serious injury
5
: excessive or impressive in quality, quantity, extent, or degree
serious stereo equipment
making serious money
serious drinking
seriousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for serious

serious, grave, solemn, sedate, staid, sober, earnest mean not light or frivolous.

serious implies a concern for what really matters.

a serious play about social injustice

grave implies both seriousness and dignity in expression or attitude.

read the proclamation in a grave voice

solemn suggests an impressive gravity utterly free from levity.

a sad and solemn occasion

sedate implies a composed and decorous seriousness.

remained sedate amid the commotion

staid suggests a settled, accustomed sedateness and prim self-restraint.

a quiet and staid community

sober stresses seriousness of purpose and absence of levity or frivolity.

a sober look at the state of our schools

earnest suggests sincerity or often zealousness of purpose.

an earnest reformer

Example Sentences

“You sound terrible.” “It's just a bad cold. Nothing serious.” For my brother, not going to college was a serious mistake. Crime is a serious problem in this neighborhood. The team is a serious contender for the championship. If you want to quit smoking, you have to make a serious effort. They had a serious conversation about their relationship. a serious novel about modern life The story raises serious questions about our system of justice. Dog shows are a serious business. She is a serious cyclist who rides 200 miles each week. See More
Recent Examples on the Web There are serious issues about the state of the New England offense, and specifically the offensive line. Christopher Price, BostonGlobe.com, 25 Nov. 2022 Yet if consumers know by now that $9.99 is basically the same as $10, why do retailers, who after all put serious thought into their pricing strategy, still use it? Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, 25 Nov. 2022 Sixth, conduct serious oversight of money wasted abroad. The Editors, National Review, 25 Nov. 2022 The abrasion- and water-resistant fabric is built to take a serious beating (think tossing in and out of seaplanes in the Alaskan wilderness). Mike Richard, Men's Health, 24 Nov. 2022 Hundreds of residential buildings are currently sealed off, with people unable to enter or leave as officials say Beijing is facing its most serious outbreak of the pandemic. Kriti Gandhi, NBC News, 24 Nov. 2022 The pandemic has proved a serious setback for many young adults. Amy Dickinson, cleveland, 24 Nov. 2022 An older, more experienced U.S. team bolstered by home turf advantage could emerge as a serious contender in four years’ time—one with the potential to take on not just England but any national team. Yasmeen Serhan, Time, 24 Nov. 2022 Greece, Cyprus and Malta, which have serious stakes in the policy because of their large maritime industries, asked for an even higher cap. Oleg Matsnev Marc Santora Thomas Gibbons-neff Alan Rappeport Marc Santora Richard Pérez-peña John Ismay Gaia Pianigiani Andrew Higgins, New York Times, 24 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English seryows, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French serious, from Late Latin seriosus, alteration of Latin serius weighty, serious; probably akin to Old English swǣr heavy, sad

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of serious was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near serious

Cite this Entry

“Serious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serious. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

serious

adjective
se·​ri·​ous ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio)
1
: thoughtful or quiet in appearance or manner
2
a
: requiring much thought or work
serious study
b
: of or relating to a matter of importance
a serious novel
3
: not joking or funny
4
: having important or dangerous possible consequences
a serious injury
seriously adverb
seriousness noun

Medical Definition

serious

adjective
se·​ri·​ous ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio)
: having important or dangerous possible consequences
a serious injury

More from Merriam-Webster on serious

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