Definition of serif in English:



  • A slight projection finishing off a stroke of a letter in certain typefaces.

    Compare with sans serif
    • ‘The original version had serif numbering, although the typeface was later changed to a sans-serif style.’
    • ‘By Winter 1964, the The in the title disappeared, and the shortened name got a serif type treatment that endured for a decade.’
    • ‘The serifs, though distracting to a small minority, allow the reader to glance over words at an alarming pace.’
    • ‘A serif face would have been gentler on the eyes, although it would have probably taken more space.’
    • ‘On paper it's easier to read serif fonts, because the serifs help the letters blend together and it is physically easier on the eyes and brain.’
    • ‘This version has a more archaic look due to the sharpness of its serifs, and so it's a little different from the run of the mill serif font but deferential in its treatment of the cover, not too flashy to detract from the central image.’
    • ‘Have the guidelines for the electronic environment been validated, or are they like the ‘truism’ that a typeface with serifs is more readable than one without them?’
    • ‘Large blocks of small text, such as document body text in printed documents, are easier to read if serif fonts are used.’
    • ‘Headlines are split between serif and sans serif faces.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, many texts have been happily read in sans serif typefaces, and other texts are hard to read because the serif typeface chosen is just plain hard to read, or badly set.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I'm quite up for sans-serif body text on screen, thinking that such a low resolution doesn't do justice to serifs.’
    • ‘More superficially, I like paperbacks, modern typefaces and striking covers, though I dare say I should attempt to retreat from my prejudice against anything written in a serif font in favour of more considered judgements on content.’
    • ‘Most importantly they don't have the resolution needed to properly render highly legible serif typefaces like Times and Garamond.’
    • ‘A serif font style is easier to read in body copy than a sans serif style.’
    • ‘Almost all use a serif face for body type.’
    • ‘So the type is too small, and I prefer a serif font for screen reading.’
    • ‘The font used on the cover and throughout the book is a serif font with distinctive, thick slab ends - a kind of conservative font appropriate for a school textbook.’
    • ‘And no, serifs has not become ‘un-cool’, quite the opposite I'd say…’
    • ‘It makes a nice contrast with the serif fonts we use for body text, and manages to convey both the technical expertise and relative newness of the company.’
    • ‘At the end of the strokes - see, here - there are decorative turns; serifs, really.’


Mid 19th century: perhaps from Dutch schreef ‘dash, line’, of Germanic origin.