American English

Definition of earnest adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  • very serious and sincere an earnest young man Despite her most earnest efforts, she could not find a job. When I looked over, he was in earnest conversation with his father.
  • Thesaurusseriousgrave earnest solemnThese words all describe someone who thinks and behaves carefully and sensibly, but often without much joy or laughter.serious thinking about things in a careful and sensible way; not laughing about something:He's really a very serious person. Be serious for a minute; this is important.grave (somewhat formal) (of a person) serious in manner, as if something sad, important, or worrying has just happened:She looked very grave as she entered the room.earnest serious and sincere:The earnest young doctor answered all our questions. an earnest attempt to communicatesolemn looking or sounding very serious, without smiling; done or said in a very serious and sincere way:The minister wore a solemn expression. I made a solemn promise that I would return.Patterns a(n) serious/grave/earnest/solemn expression/face a serious/solemn mood/atmosphereIdioms
    1. 1more seriously and with more force or effort than before The work on the house will begin in earnest on Monday. That was when our troubles started in earnest.
    2. 2very serious and sincere about what you are saying and about your intentions; in a way that shows that you are serious I could tell she spoke in earnest. synonyms at serious
    adverb He gazed earnestly into my eyes.
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    noun [uncountable]
    See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: earnest

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