se·​ri·​ous | \ ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio) \

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 No serious incidents of this type have been identified outside of laboratory or test environments. John Mccormick, WSJ, "Bosch Deploys AI to Prevent Attacks on Cars’ Electronic Systems," 6 Jan. 2020 Oceans and ice Sea-level rise is one of the most serious consequences of climate change, with the potential to displace millions of people in coastal areas around the world. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "These Are the Biggest Climate Questions for the New Decade," 4 Jan. 2020 But crows aren’t the only birds who have some serious smarts. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Puffin Shocks Scientists By Using a Tool To Scratch Itself," 31 Dec. 2019 Failing to adequately care for oneself, whether in the postpartum period or, like me, five years after having your first child, can have serious consequences. Danielle Campoamor, Houston Chronicle, "Moms are putting off care for themselves, and our tough-it-out culture isn’t helping," 24 Dec. 2019 The Workshop, on the top floor of a crumbling building in D1, is particularly serious about it, serving specialty beans to third wave coffee devotees. Marianna Cerini, Condé Nast Traveler, "Ho Chi Minh City: Where to Eat, Drink, Stay, and Play," 24 Dec. 2019 Verishop is so serious about its offer of free one-day shipping and free returns, in fact, that it's literally made its name on it. Alexis Rhiannon And Lauren Swanson, Allure, "The Best Gifts From Verishop That Ship in One Day," 18 Dec. 2019 The most serious consequences of pertussis occur among infants, the aged and those with a weakened immune system. Steve Schering,, "Elementary student is 10th whooping cough case in Oak Park and River Forest within the past month," 12 Dec. 2019 That Really Wasn’t the Goal’ The character is the most serious role the Saturday Night Live vet has played onscreen yet. Dave Quinn,, "Adam Sandler’s Wife Joins Him for Uncut Gems Premiere — and Wears a Special Nod to His Character," 12 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for serious

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for serious

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Serious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for serious


How to pronounce serious (audio)

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 How to pronounce serious (audio) \

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 How to pronounce serious (audio) \

Medical Definition of serious

: having important or dangerous possible consequences a serious injury

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More from Merriam-Webster on serious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for serious

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with serious

Spanish Central: Translation of serious

Nglish: Translation of serious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of serious for Arabic Speakers

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).


to help to grow, develop, or succeed

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