Definition of serial in English:

serial

adjective

  • 1Consisting of, forming part of, or taking place in a series:

    ‘a serial publication’
    • ‘We model asymmetric migration rates and unequal population sizes using serial samples of sequences.’
    • ‘This enormous power to subject the American public to serial triviality is far from trivial.’
    • ‘Compared to some of the serial releases from the public domain specialists, this DVD is a pleasure to look at.’
    • ‘Their serial reports have largely abstained from considering policies aimed at generating social progress from below.’
    • ‘It had dragged them to court to defend their serial publication of Joyce's Ulysses.’
    • ‘Their surfaces are accretions of controlled gestures, spatters of paint that lead from one stroke to another, singular and serial actions.’
    • ‘Serial production functions in tandem with serial consumption.’
    • ‘People with serial nonsacramental marriages are still free to marry in the church and enjoy the benefits of full communion.’
    • ‘For example, if a suffix, that is, an extra item follows the last item to be remembered in serial recall, memory for this last item is severely impaired.’
    • ‘Little information has been published regarding the association of serial changes in pulmonary function or radiographic features and prognosis.’
    • ‘It is noteworthy that he filed serial and timely notices of appeal after each order of the U.S. District Court was entered.’
    • ‘The serial presentation enhanced the illusion of spontaneity and improvisation.’
    • ‘Her allusive serial art makes use of pairings, sequences and minutes compositional shifts.’
    • ‘This was at a formal, recorded news conference, not serial impromptu interviews in the locker room.’
    • ‘Divorce and serial marriage are common in communities living under pressure, which may leave women with sole responsibility for the children and with overwhelming domestic responsibilities.’
    • ‘The journal begins serial publication this spring.’
    • ‘Devoting time to other serial publications also should be seen as an investment in the future, not a distraction.’
    • ‘Primary outputs are defined as publications in the serial peer reviewed literature, while the secondary outputs are taken to be evidence based clinical guidelines.’
    • ‘Frequent reassessment with serial lung function testing for rapid progression is critical.’
    • ‘It does not hold annual meetings or sponsor a serial publication.’
    1. 1.1Linguistics (of verbs) used in sequence to form a construction, as in they wanted, needed, longed for peace:
      ‘the use of serial verbs’
      • ‘Similarly, in the Pacific, it has been suggested that there may be Austronesian substratum influence in the serial constructions found in Tok Pisin.’
  • 2Repeatedly committing the same offence and typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern:

    ‘a serial killer’
    • ‘This man is a serial sex offender and we urgently need to catch him.’
    • ‘A serial sex attacker struck fear into women after a series of assaults and an attempted rape on a young girl.’
    • ‘Naturally, he possesses the cliché hallmark of every serial murderer, collecting mementos of each victim along the way.’
    • ‘Detectives hunting a serial sex attacker are following up several leads after receiving over 100 calls from the public.’
    • ‘These guys all follow set patterns and, like any good movie serial killer, they're too open and flamboyant in their actions.’
    • ‘Serial rapists charged with multiple counts would face only a single strike.’
    • ‘He agreed that describing the incidents as the work of a serial attacker could change the public's psyche, but urged people not to panic.’
    • ‘No, they remembered her only as the woman who killed the serial rapist.’
    • ‘In China police have arrested a man believed to be the country's worst serial killer.’
    • ‘In January of last year, he was convicted as Britain's worst serial killer.’
    • ‘People who are cruel to animals often go on to be cruel to children and most serial killers begin that way.’
    • ‘So he may just be able to track down a serial killer with a penchant for committing perfect murders.’
    • ‘You know, the vast majority of really violent offenders, for example, serial killers, pedophiles, child molesters are 99.9 percent men.’
    • ‘I did not find even one case that dealt with the sentencing of a female serial arsonist.’
    • ‘He reasoned that if the serial criminal operates close to where he lives, it may be possible to approximate the location of his home by analyzing spatial patterns of the attacks.’
    • ‘I won't give any other plot details away than this, but the remainder of the film centers on those two characters trying to find a way to get out of the room while playing a vicious game with a mad serial killer.’
    • ‘Just having someone saying that I'm coping well is therapeutic in itself - and it means that if I suddenly turn into an axe-wielding serial killer my family can sue the hospital for negligence.’
    • ‘I've read about the use of animal therapy on prison inmates and, apparently, a serial rapist can find much needed self-esteem in the sweet snuggle of a scruffy spaniel.’
    • ‘Police today joined the appeal for the public's help in tracing the serial arsonist, who is believed to have an accomplice.’
    • ‘By throwing an odd assortment of characters into the path of a home-grown serial killer, the film is able to achieve a dramatic density sadly absent from the genre for a number of years.’
    1. 2.1 Repeatedly following the same behaviour pattern:
      ‘he was a serial adulterer’
      ‘serial monogamy’
      • ‘And, except for a few periods of total debauchery, I've always been so, albeit a serial monogamist.’
      • ‘Now if you've been following my posts then you'll know that I'm 37 and have been a serial monogamist for 21 years.’
      • ‘He was also a serial adulterer, regularly confessing his sins before committing them afresh.’
      • ‘Despite the family image, a book of revelations published by a former chauffeur has painted Chirac as a serial adulterer.’
      • ‘Or maybe I'm destined to be a serial monogamist.’
      • ‘In view of his own experiences as a contributor to Private Eye, and therefore as a serial defendant in the libel courts, I was not surprised that his sympathies lay with the author and the publisher.’
      • ‘She said he was a ‘lecherous’ manager, with a reputation as a serial groper.’
      • ‘Burns himself is great as Tommy, the serial monogamist who's trying to stay ethical against all odds.’
      • ‘She plays a serial adulteress, desired by and available to all.’
      • ‘I am but a mild mannered serial monogamist, so we are coming at this whole thing from different angles, and its driving us both bonkers.’
      • ‘He gives orders for other human beings to be blown away and he is a serial adulterer, but his power has unexpected limits.’
      • ‘The Scot has become a serial collector of farewell gifts.’
      • ‘‘I'm a serial monogamist and I've never had a one night stand and I'm determined not to,’ he says.’
      • ‘Having been a serial monogamist for two decades, I haven't lived with anyone since.’
      • ‘Tenth-century kings of Wessex / England were determined serial monogamists, seeking politically strategic matches with daughters of eldermen.’
  • 3Music
    Using transformations of a fixed series of notes:

    ‘the harmonic flow of serial music’
    ‘Schoenberg's serial revolution’
    • ‘Rounds are no longer written in modern musical styles, and remain untouched by developments in chromatic harmony, atonality, jazz idioms, serial structures and folk modes.’
    • ‘The serial and atonal composers vehemently brought this issue forward in mid-century.’
    • ‘Powers's music from the 1980s deploys a considered synthesis of serial, atonal and tonal techniques.’
    • ‘For example, forty years ago, not composing serial music meant not being a composer at all, and this was a clear tendency openly registered in books, articles and papers.’
    • ‘He also for a brief time came under the influence of Schoenberg and wrote serial music, all of which (if I remember right) he destroyed.’
  • 4Computing
    (of a device) involving the transfer of data as a single sequence of bits.

    • ‘Besides, transferring large files with the USB instead of the serial connection can be done very quickly, too.’
    • ‘The controller can concurrently perform the data transfer to and/or from the parallel and serial devices.’
    • ‘It is even possible to add servers with a click of a mouse while supporting BIOS-level control of almost any number of servers or serial devices.’
    • ‘A serial response box was used to collect key-press responses from the participants.’
    • ‘You will see a list of serial devices; note that some will be built-in on your motherboard.’
    sequential, consecutive, in sequence, in order of time, in order, ordered, progressive, serial
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    1. 4.1 (of a processor) running only a single task, as opposed to multitasking.
      • ‘A serial processor executes each iteration through the loop, doing all the work.’
      • ‘Besides, all neural networks at the moment are simulations that are written in software of an essentially serial nature which runs on serial processors.’
      • ‘If it won't run on serial processors, then where is the parallel machine that it will run on?’
      consecutive, in a row, straight, solid, sequential, succeeding, in succession, following, serial, running, continuous, unbroken, uninterrupted
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noun

  • 1A story or play appearing in regular instalments on television or radio or in a magazine:

    ‘a new three-part drama serial’
    • ‘The success of this venture as a magazine serial preceding the book, has the writer planning a sequel.’
    • ‘As the last half of the serial goes into publication, you'll see some examination of the underpinnings of these characters.’
    • ‘Until 1998, Lucy then worked across a number of drama serials and documentaries.’
    • ‘Although at times, the serial enters into boring sequences, it has been accepted by middle-class families as a good one.’
    • ‘At a recent daily critique meeting, our writing coach challenged us to produce a serial in 2004.’
    • ‘The producers feel that the serial with a strong story line woven on women issues could mean good competition for other serials in the private channels.’
    • ‘It is more than a regular drama serial or just a sitcom.’
    • ‘They watch every episode of the popular Hindi serials.’
    • ‘Each story in the serial would last a week, being spread over 5 weekday episodes.’
    • ‘In a recent breakthrough, the debut show of a Chinese-language TV drama serial had a gay storyline.’
    • ‘They are not at the stage to rationalise the unnatural situations the serials depict.’
    • ‘Both serials harked back to a period when men were heroic, women were virtuous and times were better.’
    • ‘Tasked with nabbing an elusive bandit hiding out in a forest, this could become a long-running serial.’
    • ‘The original plan was for a weekly year-long serial of 52 episodes.’
    • ‘Published as a comic strip since 1936, the Phantom also appeared in movie serials, a feature film, and animated television series.’
    • ‘In an unprecedented move, the BBC had appointed a publicity officer specifically to promote the new serial.’
    • ‘However, these serials depict only the macabre and fearful aspects of these supernatural characters.’
    • ‘Fox is quite a rarity on television, as it is unusual for a serial of the time and of such length to have one author and one director.’
    • ‘Storylines in drama serials have a moral, or at least a conclusion.’
    set of programmes, programme, production, serial
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  • 2usually serials(in a library) a periodical:

    [as modifier] ‘the Serials Librarian’
    • ‘Hopper also told the senate that there has been about a 25 percent decline in the number of serials purchased by the library in the past five years.’
    • ‘She became a regular columnist for the Associated Negro Press and contributed poetry and reviews to numerous serials and collections.’
    • ‘So when we built the Library at SLAC, we put the serials on punch cards.’
    journal, publication, magazine, newspaper, paper, review, digest, gazette, newsletter, organ, serial, annual, quarterly, monthly, bimonthly, fortnightly, weekly, biweekly
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Origin

Mid 19th century: from series + -al, perhaps suggested by French sérial.

Pronunciation:

serial

/ˈsɪərɪəl/