Meaning of “adolescent” in the English Dictionary

"adolescent" in British English

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adolescentnoun [ C ]

uk /ˌæd.əˈles.ənt/ us /ˌæd.əˈles.ənt/

C2 a young person who is developing into an adult


  • He looked uncomfortable, like a self-conscious adolescent who's gone to the wrong party.
  • I'm looking after six adolescents for a week.
  • She doesn't understand the emotional problems of adolescents.


uk /ˌæd.əˈles.ənt/ us /ˌæd.əˈles.ənt/

being or relating to an adolescent:

an adolescent boy

used to describe an adult or an adult's behaviour that is silly and like a child's:

adolescent humour/behaviour

More examples

  • He eventually outgrew his adolescent interest in war and guns.
  • The council was hoping to turn a children's home into a residence for adolescent girls.
  • My daughter became quite difficult to deal with during her adolescent years.
  • A lot of adolescent girls suffer from low self-esteem.
  • It's sad to see a grown man acting in such an adolescent way.

(Definition of “adolescent” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"adolescent" in American English

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us /ˌæd·əlˈes·ənt/

between the ages of a child and an adult:

The two adolescent boys made their mother very tired.

If you describe an adult as adolescent, you mean that the person is behaving in a silly way.

noun [ C/U ] us /ˌæd·əlˈes·əns/

[ C ] He had an unhappy adolescence.
noun [ C ] us /ˌæd·əlˈes·ənt/

I teach in a middle school, because I like young adolescents.

(Definition of “adolescent” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)