serious

adjective

se·​ri·​ous ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio)
1
: thoughtful or subdued in appearance or manner : sober
a quiet, serious girl
2
a
: requiring much thought or work
serious study
b
: of or relating to a matter of importance
a serious play
3
a
: not joking or trifling : being in earnest
a serious question
b
archaic : pious
c
: deeply interested : devoted
a serious musician
4
a
: 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
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

Example Sentences

“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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Magnus report found there should have been an understanding from the outset that the matter was serious. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Jan. 2023 The source did not provide details about the couple's timeline or how serious their relationship is. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 28 Jan. 2023 As well as adding several brilliant new features, iOS 16.3 also fixes 13 security vulnerabilities, some of which are serious. Kate O'flaherty, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2023 How serious my mother was and how pretty and happy Angela and Ida’s mother . . . Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 26 Jan. 2023 Typically, constipation isn't serious, though sometimes it can be caused by certain medications or an underlying health issue. Amanda Macmillan, Health, 25 Jan. 2023 And for Republicans, more of them think that Biden's actions are more serious. ABC News, 22 Jan. 2023 That slip can result in a chainsaw gash, which is serious any time of year. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 18 Jan. 2023 While the themes may be corny, the fundraising is serious. Beth Thames, al, 18 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near serious

Cite this Entry

“Serious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serious. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

serious

adjective
se·​ri·​ous ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio)
1
: thoughtful or quiet in appearance or manner
2
a
: requiring much thought or work
serious study
b
: of or relating to a matter of importance
a serious novel
3
: not joking or funny
4
: having important or dangerous possible consequences
a serious injury
seriously adverb
seriousness noun

Medical Definition

serious

adjective
se·​ri·​ous ˈsir-ē-əs How to pronounce serious (audio)
: having important or dangerous possible consequences
a serious injury

More from Merriam-Webster on serious

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