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[ad-l-es-uh nt] /ˌæd lˈɛs ənt/
growing to manhood or womanhood; youthful.
having the characteristics of adolescence or of an adolescent.
an adolescent person.
Origin of adolescent
1475-85; < Latin adolēscent- (stem of adolēscēns growing up, present participle of adolēscere), equivalent to adol(ē)- (see adult) + -ēsc- -esce + -ent- -ent
Related forms
adolescently, adverb
postadolescent, adjective, noun
subadolescent, adjective, noun
Can be confused
adolescence, adolescents (see synonym study at adolescent)
1. immature, young. 3. youth, teenager, minor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for adolescent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A nation passes out of its adolescent preoccupation with plans and with materials.

    The American Mind Bliss Perry
  • This then is the duality of my day and my night being: a duality so bitter to an adolescent.

  • Five years of teaching had demonstrated, to his satisfaction, that he could handle any adolescent.

    Adolescents Only Irving E. Cox
  • But very few speakers could meet the needs of that adolescent age.

    The Story of Chautauqua Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
  • He was too refined, too tender-hearted, to indulge in the conventional dissipations of adolescent mankind.

    Egoists James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for adolescent


of or relating to adolescence
(informal) behaving in an immature way; puerile
an adolescent person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for adolescent

mid-15c., "youth, young man," from Middle French adolescent (15c.) or directly from Latin adolescentem (nominative adolescens) "growing, near maturity, youthful," present participle of adolescere "grow up, come to maturity, ripen," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + alescere "be nourished," hence, "increase, grow up," inchoative of alere "to nourish" (see old). Adolesce was a back-formed verb used early 20c. by H.G. Wells, G.B. Shaw, Louis MacNeice, but it seems not to have taken.


1785, from Latin adolescentem (nominative adolescens) "growing, near maturity, youthful," present participle of adolescere "grow up, come to maturity, ripen" (see adolescent (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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adolescent in Medicine

adolescent ad·o·les·cent (ād'l-ěs'ənt)
Of, relating to, or undergoing adolescence. n.
A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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