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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her resentment was only half-serious, but the note was there.

    The Imperialist (a.k.a. Mrs. Everard Cotes) Sara Jeannette Duncan
  • The half-whimsical, half-serious smile returned to his eyes.

  • "You're not listening, Miss Harkutt," said Rice with half-serious reproach.

  • Socrates in reply is led into a half-serious, half-comic vein of reflection.

    Gorgias Plato
  • Branwell did not lose his early interest in the 'noble science,' but continued it with a half-serious constancy.

    The Bront Family, Vol. 2 of 2 Francis A. Leyland
  • He had a way, half-laughing, half-serious, of calling it his Bible.

    The Life of James McNeill Whistler Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • Was this playful punning or a half-serious attempt to correct a misstatement?

    Children's Ways James Sully
  • He was half-serious, and I acknowledged that the affair was rather nerve wearing.

    Quintus Oakes Charles Ross Jackson
  • Granny Ann sat on the garden seat, looking gravely down at the half-laughing, half-serious girls huddled at her feet.

British Dictionary definitions for half-serious


not entirely serious
Derived Forms
halfseriously, adverb


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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