Meaning of “earnest” in the English Dictionary

"earnest" in British English

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earnestadjective

uk /ˈɜː.nɪst/ us /ˈɝː.nɪst/

serious and determined, especially too serious and unable to find your own actions funny:

He was a very earnest young man.
in deadly earnest

completely serious:

These fanatics are in deadly earnest when they say they want to destroy all forms of government.
in earnest

When something begins in earnest, it has already started but is now being done in a serious and complete way:

The election campaign has begun in earnest.
be in earnest

to be speaking honestly:

I thought he was joking - I didn't realize he was in earnest.
earnestly
adverb uk /ˈɜː.nɪst.li/ us /ˈɝː.nɪst.li/
earnestness
noun [ U ] uk /ˈɜː.nɪst.nəs/ us /ˈɝː.nɪst.nəs/

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

"earnest" in American English

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earnestadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈɜr·nəst/

sincere and serious:

She made an earnest attempt to convert me to her point of view.
in earnest

If something is done in earnest, it is done seriously:

Work on the building began, in earnest, in late spring.
earnestly
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ˈɜr·nəs·tli/
earnestness
noun [ U ] us /ˈɜr·nəst·nəs/

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