Definitions

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

  • adj. Grave in quality or manner: gave me a serious look.
  • adj. Carried out in earnest: engaged in serious drinking; serious study of Italian.
  • adj. Deeply interested or involved: a serious card player.
  • adj. Designed for and addressing grave and earnest tastes: serious art; serious music.
  • adj. Not trifling or jesting: I'm serious: we expect you to complete the assignment on time. Her question was serious enough to deserve a thoughtful response.
  • adj. Informal Of considerable size or scope; substantial: a cleanup that cost serious money.
  • adj. Of such character or quality as to appeal to the expert, the connoisseur, or the sophisticate: "Every serious kitchen needs at least one peppermill” ( Washington Post).
  • adj. Concerned with important rather than trivial matters: a serious student of history.
  • adj. Being of such import as to cause anxiety: serious injuries; a serious turn of events.
  • adj. Too complex to be easily answered or solved: raised some serious objections to the proposal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Without humor or expression of happiness; grave in manner or disposition; earnest; thoughtful; solemn.
  • adj. Important; weighty; not trifling; leaving no room for play; needing great attention; critical.
  • adj. Really intending what is said; being in earnest; not jesting or deceiving; meaningful.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Grave in manner or disposition; earnest; thoughtful; solemn; not light, gay, or volatile.
  • adj. Really intending what is said; being in earnest; not jesting or deceiving.
  • adj. Important; weighty; not trifling; grave.
  • adj. Hence, giving rise to apprehension; attended with danger.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Grave in feeling, manner, or disposition; solemn; earnest; not light, gay, or volatile; of things, springing from, expressing, or inducing gravity or earnestness of feeling.
  • In earnest; not jesting or making pretense.
  • Important; weighty; not trifling.
  • Attended with danger; giving rise to apprehension: as, a serious illness.
  • Deeply impressed with the importance of religion; making profession of or pretension to religion.
  • Synonyms Solemn, etc. See grave.
  • 1 and Sedate, staid, sober, earnest.
  • Great, momentous.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. completely lacking in playfulness
  • adj. concerned with work or important matters rather than play or trivialities
  • adj. requiring effort or concentration; complex and not easy to answer or solve
  • adj. of great consequence
  • adj. appealing to the mind
  • adj. causing fear or anxiety by threatening great harm

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French serieux, from Late Latin sēriōsus, from Latin sērius.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English seryows, from Old French serieux, from Medieval Latin sēriōsus, an extension of Latin sērius ("grave, earnest, serious"), from Proto-Indo-European *swēr- (“heavy”). Cognate with German schwer ("heavy, difficult, severe"), Old English swǣr ("heavy, grave, grievous"). More at swear, sweer. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Pávlovna, there are things which must be investigated and fully understood before they can be talked about, things too serious, too serious  ...

    Fruits of Culture

  • She petted the friendly cat, her expression serious as she stared up at James.

    My Fair Succubi

  • Her eyes were alert, her expression serious and self-conscious and beautifully placid.

    The Master

  • COOPER: Richard, let's talk about consequences -- 1441 used the term serious consequences if Iraq failed to abide by the resolution.

    CNN Transcript Feb 24, 2003

  • “Mother suffered?” the younger man asked, at great length, his expression serious again.

    MEMORY’S EMBRACE

  • New York lawmakers Wednesday criticized the city's plan to remove PCB-contaminated lights from public schools over a 10-year period, saying it is insufficient to address what they call a serious health risk to children.

    PCB Plan Criticized

  • The president spoke to reporters Wednesday and compared the controversy to a carnival, at what he called a serious time.

    Obama Releases Birth Certificate

  • Their departures came on the day the phone-hacking scandal engulfing Murdoch's empire led him to issue a widespread, abject apology for what he described as "serious wrongdoing".

    Rupert Murdoch's bloody Friday as Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton quit

  • It was a small but horrifying item in the Los Angeles Times: Police are asking for the public's help in identifying what they call a 'serious, dangerous serial killer operating in Orange County.

    Diane Dimond: Is There a Serial Killer Near You?

  • The maker of cameras and medical-imaging equipment sacked Chief Executive Michael Woodford last month after he demanded that the board look into what he described as serious governance concerns'' surrounding the four acquisitions.

    Ex-CEO Assails Olympus

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