Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Loved and cherished.
  • adjective Greatly valued; precious.
  • adjective Highly esteemed or regarded. Used in direct address, especially in salutations.
  • adjective High-priced; expensive.
  • adjective Charging high prices.
  • adjective Earnest; ardent.
  • adjective Obsolete Noble; worthy.
  • adjective Heartfelt.
  • noun A person who is greatly loved. Often used as a form of address.
  • noun An endearing, lovable, or kind person.
  • adverb With fondness; affectionately.
  • adverb At a high cost.
  • interjection Used as a polite exclamation, chiefly of surprise or distress.
  • adjective Severe; grievous; sore.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Precious; of great value; highly esteemed or valued.
  • Costly; high in price; expensive, either absolutely, or as compared with the cost of other similar things, or of the same thing at other times or places: opposed to cheap.
  • Characterized by high prices in consequence of scarcity or dearth: as, a dear season.
  • Charging high prices: as, a dear tailor.
  • Held in tender affection or esteem; loved; beloved: as, a dear child; a dear friend
  • Intense; deep; keen; being of a high degree.
  • Coming from the heart; heartfelt; earnest; passionate.
  • Dangerous; deadly.
  • [Obsolete or archaic in senses , and 8.]
  • noun A darling: a word denoting tender affection or endearment, most commonly used in direct address: as, my dear.
  • Dearly; very tenderly.
  • At a dear rate; at a high price.
  • An exclamation indicating surprise, pity, or other emotion: used absolutely or in connection with oh or me: as, oh dear ! I am so tired; dear me ! where have you been?
  • To make dear; endear.
  • noun An obsolete spelling of deer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A dear one; lover; sweetheart.
  • adverb Dearly; at a high price.
  • transitive verb obsolete To endear.
  • adjective Bearing a high price; high-priced; costly; expensive.
  • adjective Marked by scarcity or dearth, and exorbitance of price.
  • adjective Highly valued; greatly beloved; cherished; precious.
  • adjective Hence, close to the heart; heartfelt; present in mind; engaging the attention.
  • adjective Of agreeable things and interests.
  • adjective Of disagreeable things and antipathies.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Loved; lovable.
  • adjective Loving, affectionate, heartfelt
  • adjective Precious to or greatly valued by someone.
  • adjective High in price; expensive.
  • adjective A formal way to start (possibly after my) addressing somebody at the beginning of a letter, memo etc.
  • adjective A formal way to start (often after my) addressing somebody one likes or regards kindly.
  • adjective An ironic way to start (often after my) addressing an inferior.
  • adjective obsolete noble
  • noun A very kind, loving person.
  • noun A beloved person

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English dere, from Old English dēore.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English dere, from Old English dēor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English dere, from Old English dēore. Cognate with Dutch duur ("costly, precious"), German teuer ("costly, precious"), Icelandic dýr ("expensive"), Norwegian dyr, Swedish dyr ("expensive").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English dere, from Old English dēor. Cognate with the above

Examples

  • "And now, dear, _dear_ Mademoiselle de Charrebourg, I come into your presence, to learn how it fares with you."

    The International Magazine, Volume 2, No. 3, February, 1851

  • "_May you never regret it, my dear, my dear_," said the lover on the stage.

    The Gay Cockade

  • "Oh, I entreat you -- I implore you, my dear, _dear_ --"

    The American Baron

  • The man cried out: "Mother dear -- _Mother dear_!"

    Suzanna Stirs the Fire

  • "Yes," replied Dexie, "they are rather dear, _dear shad_," and she looked intently at her plate, well knowing how Plaisted was glaring at her.

    Miss Dexie A Romance of the Provinces

  • Amelia addressed him now, with an effect of angry mockery, as “my dear old Frank Bronson”; but that (without the mockery) was how the Amberson family almost always spoke of him: “dear old Frank Bronson.

    Chapter 13

  • "My dear, _dear_ friends!" he said, and stretched out both hands towards the company, as if to clasp them all to his heart.

    The Old Tobacco Shop A True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure

  • She often called Nels "my dear" with a peculiar inflection on the _dear_ and an upward lilt of tone.

    Son of Power

  • That was the line, the very sharp and impassable line she drew between her "dear, _dear_ Ellen", her "dearest Nel", and her sisters, Anne and Emily.

    The Three Brontës

  • She had hurt his feelings by saying she wished she didn't have to live with him, and she had insulted his dear, dear, _dear_ picture!

    The Iron Woman

Comments

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  • “He burned the gnarled old apples and mulberries in his own fireplaces, for wood was dear;”

    —Gene Wolfe, The Urth of the New Sun

    October 6, 2008

  • I prefer dearness.

    October 23, 2008