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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
  • The venomous cobra is an adolescent and will likely come out of hiding when she is hungry.
  • Hay and Meldrum analyzed survey answers from 426 adolescents with an average age of 15.
  • Don't lead your friend down that path, and don't make yourself look like an adolescent.
  • It seems very adolescent to me.
  • She tells the adolescent boy who greets her that she's looking for puppies to give to her nephews for Christmas.
  • Even as an adolescent, he will be graceful in movement, awkward in repose.
  • As if to make his point about adolescent outbursts, Backhaus started screaming.
  • The adolescent says "no" to assert who she is not.
  • She traces her life from young, eager-to-please child to questioning adolescent.
  • I'm on the short side, though, and at the age of twenty-four I still had the soft boyish features of an adolescent.
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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