se·ri·ous | \ˈsir-ē-əs \

Definition of serious 

1 : thoughtful or subdued in appearance or manner : sober a quiet, serious girl

2a : requiring much thought or work serious study

b : of or relating to a matter of importance a serious play

3a : not joking or trifling : being in earnest a serious question

b archaic : pious

c : deeply interested : devoted a serious musician

4a : 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

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Other Words from serious

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

serious, solemn, and earnest mean not funny or not playful. serious means being concerned or seeming to be concerned about really important things. He's a serious student. solemn is used for dignity along with complete seriousness. The preacher is always very solemn. earnest means that someone is sincere and has serious intentions. She's an earnest, diligent student.

Examples of serious in a Sentence

“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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The lack of civility in politics is a serious problem, 91 percent of American voters said in the Quinnipiac poll. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Trump, race and why it seems like a hate-fueled confrontation might happen anywhere, anytime," 12 July 2018 The 44-year-old man, who lives in Sterling Heights, sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries in the fall and was taken to a hospital, according to a department news release from the Ferndale Police Department. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Police chase ends in 15-foot fall for home invasion suspect in Ferndale," 10 July 2018 He was taken to a hospital in Olbia, but his injuries were not serious and he was discharged, health officials told NBC and CNN. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "George Clooney hospitalized after scooter accident in Italy," 10 July 2018 The injury was serious but the victim is expected to recover, his attorney has said. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Judge: Dancing FBI agent, accused in backflip gunfire incident, can carry weapon again," 10 July 2018 As Matt Ford suggested in The New Republic, now is the time for Democrats to get serious about putting the composition of the court front and center as an election issue. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "If Democrats want to fight Brett Kavanaugh, they have a lot of ammunition.," 10 July 2018 Justin had a very serious and long-term on-and-off relationship with Selena Gomez that involved a lot of hockey, while Hailey dated singer Shawn Mendes for a bit. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "Everything to Know About Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s Engagement," 9 July 2018 The balance between the serious and comedic always seems true and honest, given the setting. Julie Meister, The Christian Science Monitor, "What are you watching? Readers choose their favorite sitcoms," 6 July 2018 And yet Bourland walks the line between serious and comedy so deftly that anyone who has read a women’s magazine or caught an episode of America’s Next Top Model will understand the jokes and the lessons without conflict. Rachel King, Fortune, "Your Summer Reading List: Page-Turning Novels Set in Politics, Finance, and Tech," 6 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of serious

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for serious

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

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Phrases Related to serious

can't be serious

in all seriousness

Statistics for serious

Last Updated

2 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for serious

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

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More Definitions for serious



English Language Learners Definition of serious

: having an important or dangerous possible result

: involving or deserving a lot of thought, attention, or work

: giving a lot of attention or energy to something


se·ri·ous | \ˈsir-ē-əs \

Kids Definition of serious

1 : not joking or funny a serious drama

2 : being such as to cause distress or harm a serious accident

3 : thoughtful or quiet in appearance or manner a serious person

4 : requiring much thought or work a serious task

Other Words from serious

seriousness noun


se·ri·ous | \ˈsir-ē-əs \

Medical Definition of serious 

: having important or dangerous possible consequences a serious injury

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Comments on serious

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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