Meaning of “serious” in the English Dictionary

"serious" in British English

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uk /ˈsɪə.ri.əs/ us /ˈsɪr.i.əs/

serious adjective (BAD)

B1 severe in effect; bad:

a serious illness
There were no reports of serious injuries.
The new tax regulations have landed some of the smaller companies in serious trouble.
Drugs have become a serious problem in a lot of schools.
This is a very serious offence.
He's been taken to hospital where his condition is described as serious but stable.

[ after noun ] mainly Indian English very ill

More examples

  • The long hot summer has led to serious water shortages.
  • The drought caused serious shortfalls in the food supply.
  • Drunken drivers pose a serious threat to other road users.
  • It was a serious fall - it'll be a while before you feel up to walking again.
  • Strong winds had caused serious damage to the roof.

serious adjective (NOT JOKING)

B1 not joking or intended to be funny:

Please don't laugh - I'm being serious.
He was wearing a very serious expression and I knew something was wrong.
On the surface it's a very funny novel but it does have a more serious underlying theme.

B1 A serious person is quiet, thinks carefully about things, and does not laugh a lot:

I remember her as a very serious child.

More examples

  • I thought she was joking but she was deadly serious.
  • He was being funny but I think he was half serious.
  • I know it's a funny piece of writing but I think there's a serious point being made here.
  • Listen, I'm being serious now - this is a big problem.
  • He's very serious about his work.

serious adjective (DETERMINED)

[ after verb ] determined to follow a particular plan of action:

Is she serious about going to live abroad?

[ after verb ] If two people who have a loving relationship are serious about each other, they intend to stay with each other for a long time and possibly marry:

She's had a lot of boyfriends but Simon's the only one she's been serious about.

More examples

  • Are you serious about leaving?
  • Was he serious about wanting a new job?
  • If they were serious about ending poverty they would increase the minimum wage.
  • You're not serious about moving house, are you
  • So is she serious about Anthony?

serious adjective (NEEDING ATTENTION)

B2 [ before noun ] needing or deserving your complete attention:

That's an interesting job offer - I'd give it some serious consideration if I were you.
We've got some serious talking to do, you and me.

More examples

  • I have serious concerns about her ability to do the job.
  • So he is a serious contender for the title?
  • I have serious doubts about the whole project.
  • This is a serious complaint - we can't just ignore it.
  • This is a serious matter.

serious adjective (EXTREME)

informal extreme in degree or amount:

We did some fairly serious walking over the weekend.
I mean we're talking serious (= a large amount of) money, right?

informal very good of its type:

This is a serious wine, Belle, you have to try some.

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

"serious" in American English

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us /ˈsɪr·i·əs/

serious adjective (NOT JOKING)

not joking; not intended to amuse:

You can never tell when he’s serious.

serious adjective (NEEDING ATTENTION)

needing complete attention:

That’s an interesting job offer – I’d give it serious consideration if I were you.

serious adjective (BAD)

severe in effect; bad:

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

serious adjective (DETERMINED)

determined to follow a particular plan of action:

Is she serious about moving to Nevada?
You have to start getting serious about your studies.

If two people who have a romantic relationship are serious about each other, they intend to continue the relationship and possibly marry.

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

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