Main definitions of earnest in English

: earnest1earnest2

earnest1

adjective

  • Resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction:

    ‘an earnest student’
    ‘two girls were in earnest conversation’
    • ‘From her earnest tone and steady gaze, he had no doubts as to the sincerity of her question.’
    • ‘On Friday I debated my theory in deep and earnest detail with a representative of the profession.’
    • ‘In hushed, earnest tones, she spoke of the things her heart desired.’
    • ‘Basic errors are repeated time and again, despite fine words and earnest assurances to this committee.’
    • ‘It is only through such earnest conversation that we can hope to approach clarity.’
    • ‘She looked so earnest it was hard not to laugh, though out of respect Leah held her laugh.’
    • ‘Sooner or later everyone become convinced of how earnest and truthful he was.’
    • ‘What his earnest colleagues in the Society made of it I could not tell.’
    • ‘But laughs are in short supply here: the tone is earnest, lightened only occasionally by very dry wit.’
    • ‘He was a very earnest and intense young man, whose character was in keeping with his guitar playing.’
    • ‘It is far too flippant and casual to be taken seriously, and at the same time it is so earnest that it's impossible to just sit back and enjoy the ride.’
    • ‘If you are looking for something with all the earnest passion and intensity of a real superhero story, you may have a hard time.’
    • ‘As he sliced bread for the meal Brother Danny chuckled at the intensely earnest youth.’
    • ‘In fact, I was quickly and forcibly won over by the band's earnest performance.’
    • ‘The truth was more that the agenda didn't fit with her sincere and earnest style, so why should she change in order to fit it?’
    • ‘Meanwhile both governments should make earnest efforts to improve the conditions on their side of the state.’
    • ‘As you may have already discovered - and if you have not, give it earnest thought - there is more to life than work.’
    • ‘It will be a serious and earnest review of how well the world has lived up to its obligations to children.’
    • ‘Instead, earnest students of public policy are expected to read them onscreen as retrieved via the internet.’
    • ‘They were so grateful for my muddled, yet earnest, attempts at educational help that it was a permanent embarrassment to me.’
    devout, heartfelt, wholehearted, sincere, impassioned, deeply felt, from the heart, fervent, ardent, passionate, intense, burning, urgent
    serious, serious-minded, solemn, grave, sober, humourless, staid, steady, intense
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • in earnest

    • 1To a greater extent or more intensely than before:

      ‘work began again in earnest’
      • ‘Kim Dae-jung's government made a ruthless decision, and carried out the plan in earnest.’
      • ‘That evening, a reception was held to meet other members of the party and the next morning the adventure began in earnest.’
      • ‘Fitness training and some less serious stuff will continue throughout the summer before training starts in earnest in July.’
      • ‘This worldwide expansion, which began in earnest in the early 1970s, has not been without difficulties.’
      • ‘If comparativism continues to gather momentum, as seems likely, Scalia's question may be taken up in earnest.’
      • ‘Frost, strong winds and heavy rain will take their toll on the show of leaves as winter sets in in earnest.’
      • ‘The veterans group and your people back home are planning the September ceremony in earnest.’
      • ‘Images of sun-kissed beaches wash over us as the travel agents' television advertising campaigns begin in earnest.’
      • ‘The inquiry begins in earnest as the first witnesses give evidence.’
      • ‘And, overhead, the canopy of the oak tree is beginning to bud out in earnest.’
      1. 1.1(of a person) sincere and serious in intention:
        ‘Cameron looked at him to make sure he was in earnest’
        • ‘We move on to Knightley and at first you think he can't be serious, but Sutherland is always in earnest, even when joking.’
        serious, not joking, sincere, wholehearted, genuine
        zealously, purposefully, determinedly, resolutely, with enthusiasm, with dedication, with commitment
        View synonyms

Origin

Old English eornoste (adjective), eornost (noun), of Germanic origin; related to German Ernst (noun).

Pronunciation:

earnest

/ˈəːnɪst/

Main definitions of earnest in English

: earnest1earnest2

earnest2

noun

  • [in singular] A thing intended or regarded as a sign or promise of what is to come:

    ‘the very deliberateness of their disguise is an earnest of their real aloofness’
    • ‘It was a touching tribute never since accorded to any other author, and an earnest of the esteem in which he was held.’
    • ‘It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will.’

Origin

Middle English ernes, literally ‘instalment paid to confirm a contract’, based on Old French erres, from Latin arra, shortened form of arrabo a pledge. The spelling was influenced by words ending in -ness; the final -t is probably by association with earnest.

Pronunciation:

earnest

/ˈəːnɪst/