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

Last night, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, suffered serious damage when the floating drydock in which it was being repaired sank. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia’s Hard-Luck Carrier Damaged in Shipyard Accident," 30 Oct. 2018 These are some serious putative penitentes, too: Some fields could feature towers up to 50 feet (15 m) tall, spaced about 23 feet (7 m) apart, the scientists found. Mike Wall,, "Jupiter Moon Europa's Jagged Ice Towers Could Imperil Robot Landers," 8 Oct. 2018 Lenovo is serious about making this laptop as light as possible. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "Lenovo's ThinkPad P1 puts a Core i9 or Xeon in a thin-and-light laptop," 13 Aug. 2018 Up until that point, Hudson’s most serious injury had been a broken wrist from falling off the monkey bars at Back to School Night. Kerry Cromwell, Good Housekeeping, "My Little Boy Was Just 7 Years Old When He Had a Catastrophic Stroke," 26 July 2018 This should lead to a serious discussion in Europe over how the allies can best pool military resources, spread risk and exploit national specialisms to take more responsibility for their own defence. The Economist, "How policy debates in Europe become untethered from reality," 12 July 2018 This season of Real Housewives Of New York City, a reality TV show fueled by wine and bad vacations, has proven to be far more serious than usual., "The Most Awkward Parts Of The RHONY Speed Dating Adventure," 12 July 2018 Even higher increases will be placed on four more serious charges. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Lilburn votes to increase municipal court fines," 12 July 2018 Lisa was theatrical, strong-willed, sharp, but never self-serious. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 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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Statistics for serious

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for serious

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

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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).


a private place of worship

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