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[seer-ee-uh s] /ˈsɪər i əs/
of, showing, or characterized by deep thought.
of grave or somber disposition, character, or manner:
a serious occasion; a serious man.
being in earnest; sincere; not trifling:
His interest was serious.
requiring thought, concentration, or application:
serious reading; a serious task.
weighty or important:
a serious book; Marriage is a serious matter.
giving cause for apprehension; critical:
The plan has one serious flaw.
Medicine/Medical. (of a patient's condition) having unstable or otherwise abnormal vital signs and other unfavorable indicators, as loss of appetite and poor mobility: patient is acutely ill.
that which is of importance, grave, critical, or somber:
You have to learn to separate the serious from the frivolous.
Origin of serious
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin sērius or Late Latin sēriōsus; see -ous, -ose1
Related forms
seriousness, noun
half-serious, adjective
half-seriously, adverb
half-seriousness, noun
nonserious, adjective
nonseriously, adverb
nonseriousness, noun
overserious, adjective
overseriously, adverb
overseriousness, noun
quasi-serious, adjective
quasi-seriously, adverb
superserious, adjective
superseriously, adverb
superseriousness, noun
ultraserious, adjective
ultraseriously, adverb
ultraseriousness, noun
unserious, adjective
unseriously, adverb
unseriousness, noun
2. sober, sedate, staid. 3. See earnest1 . 5. momentous, grave.
3, 5. trivial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for half serious
Historical Examples
  • Half laughing and half serious, she let him monopolize her, but quite drove him away when Mr. Dykeman claimed his dance.

    The Crux Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Her eyes were full of half serious reproach, of laughter and enticement.

    The Northern Iron George A. Birmingham
  • She doesnt take things lightly; she is a dear, simple little girl, and half serious trifling is not to her what it is to us.

    Paths of Judgement Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • Such is the discourse, half playful, half serious, which I dedicate to the god.

    Symposium Plato
  • "You may well say in more ways than one," returned Lionel, half joking, half serious.

    Verner's Pride Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Thackeray, to be sure, can write good ballads, half serious.

    Letters of Edward FitzGerald Edward FitzGerald
  • The explanation she had once made to herself had been half irony, half serious reflection.

    The Shuttle Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Half laughing, half serious, Nancy tried to keep her ground.

    The Wide, Wide World Susan Warner
  • I never knew a man like O'Shea for thinking of things that are half serious and half funny.

    The Mermaid Lily Dougall
  • The half–serious, half–joking command Ole accepted in earnest.

    Ole Bull Sara C. Bull
British Dictionary definitions for half serious


grave in nature or disposition; thoughtful: a serious person
marked by deep feeling; in earnest; sincere: is he serious or joking?
concerned with important matters: a serious conversation
requiring effort or concentration: a serious book
giving rise to fear or anxiety; critical: a serious illness
(informal) worthy of regard because of substantial quantity or quality: serious money, serious wine
(informal) extreme or remarkable: a serious haircut
Derived Forms
seriousness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin sēriōsus, from Latin sērius; probably related to Old English swǣr gloomy, Gothic swers esteemed
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 half serious



mid-15c., "expressing earnest purpose or thought" (of persons), from Middle French sérieux "grave, earnest" (14c.), from Late Latin seriosus, from Latin serius "weighty, important, grave," probably from a PIE root *swer- (4) "heavy" (cf. Lithuanian sveriu "to weigh, lift," svarus "heavy;" Old English swære "heavy," German schwer "heavy," Gothic swers "honored, esteemed," literally "weighty"). As opposite of jesting, from 1712; as opposite of light (of music, theater, etc.), from 1762. Meaning "attended with danger" is from 1800.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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half serious in Medicine

serious se·ri·ous (sēr'ē-əs)
Being of such import as to cause anxiety, as of a physical condition.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for half serious



  1. Very commendable; excellent; superb (1940s+ Black)
  2. Intended to make a good and sober impression; overtly conformistic; sincere: in a serious suit and striped tie
  3. Impressive; imposing; heavy, important: He pushed a button activating some serious chimes (1980s+)

Related Terms

for serious

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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