Synonyms & Antonyms of earnest

(Entry 1 of 2)



Synonyms & Antonyms of earnest (Entry 2 of 2)

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About earnest

How is the word earnest different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of earnest are grave, sedate, serious, sober, solemn, and staid. While all these words mean "not light or frivolous," earnest suggests sincerity or often zealousness of purpose.

an earnest reformer

In what contexts can grave take the place of earnest?

The words grave and earnest can be used in similar contexts, but grave implies both seriousness and dignity in expression or attitude.

read the proclamation in a grave voice

When is it sensible to use sedate instead of earnest?

The synonyms sedate and earnest are sometimes interchangeable, but sedate implies a composed and decorous seriousness.

remained sedate amid the commotion

Where would serious be a reasonable alternative to earnest?

The words serious and earnest are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, serious implies a concern for what really matters.

a serious play about social injustice

When can sober be used instead of earnest?

In some situations, the words sober and earnest are roughly equivalent. However, sober stresses seriousness of purpose and absence of levity or frivolity.

a sober look at the state of our schools

When might solemn be a better fit than earnest?

Although the words solemn and earnest have much in common, solemn suggests an impressive gravity utterly free from levity.

a sad and solemn occasion

When is staid a more appropriate choice than earnest?

While the synonyms staid and earnest are close in meaning, staid suggests a settled, accustomed sedateness and prim self-restraint.

a quiet and staid community

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about earnest

Time Traveler for earnest

Time Traveler

The first known use of earnest was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Earnest.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on earnest

Dictionary: Definition of earnest

Nglish: Translation of earnest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of earnest for Arabic Speakers

Comments on earnest

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!