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 The patients, whose symptoms are not yet serious enough to warrant hospitalization, are being kept in their homes, where they are being closely monitored, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Mélissa Godin, Time, "3 More People Diagnosed With Coronavirus in Northern California," 3 Feb. 2020 But the indirect implications of the ocean's rapid warming could be even more serious, given the crucial role sea ice plays in nourishing the rich waters of the Sea of Okhotsk, experts say. Author: Simon Denyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Receding sea ice off northern Japan proves blessing and potential curse for seals," 2 Feb. 2020 Physicians and psychologists began to understand that a concussion, a mild form of T.B.I., was a serious medical condition in its own right: dizziness, depression, insomnia, memory loss, and other symptoms could linger for months, even years. Ingfei Chen, The New Yorker, "Exactly How Dangerous Is Football?," 1 Feb. 2020 Another bridge in serious condition is the East River Road Bridge., "Wayne County has struggled to inspect its bridges, state also under scrutiny," 31 Jan. 2020 But Kelce also exemplifies the almost uncanny way the Chiefs can flip a switch from silly to serious, as evidenced by his four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Dave Skretta, Houston Chronicle, "Amid the pressure-cooker of the Super Bowl, Chiefs remain loose," 28 Jan. 2020 But the idea that has taken hold of too much of the writing class—that writers who see a question in black and white are inherently less serious and thoughtful than those who see shades of gray—has taken us radically in the opposite direction. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Enemies of the Truth," 27 Jan. 2020 People had fun getting behind a cause that wasn’t serious, didn’t have anything to do with politics, and didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Andy Nesbitt, For The Win, "NBA fans should be applauded for what they did for Alex Caruso and Tacko Fall," 24 Jan. 2020 Elderly and immunocompromised individuals are the ones most at risk of developing serious, or even life-threatening, cases of pneumonia, though one 36-year-old patient in China died with no known pre-existing conditions. Kat Eschner, Popular Science, "The CDC just confirmed a second U.S. case of the Wuhan coronavirus," 24 Jan. 2020

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

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Serious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 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

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