Meaning of SERIOUS in English


se ‧ ri ‧ ous S1 W1 /ˈsɪəriəs $ ˈsɪr-/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ seriousness ; adverb : ↑ seriously ; adjective : ↑ serious ]

[ Date: 1400-1500 ; Language: French ; Origin: sérieux , from Late Latin seriosus , from Latin serius ]

1 . SITUATION/PROBLEM a serious situation, problem, accident etc is extremely bad or dangerous:

the serious problem of unemployment

Luckily, the damage was not serious.

Serious crimes have increased dramatically.

serious injury/illness/accident etc

a serious accident on the freeway

Oil spills pose a serious threat to marine life.

The president was in serious trouble.

⇨ see Thesaurus box on P. 1590

2 . IMPORTANT important and needing a lot of thought or attention:

This is a very serious matter.

the serious business of earning a living

Be quiet, Jim. This is serious.

3 . NOT JOKING OR PRETENDING if someone is serious about something they say or plan to do, they really mean it and are not joking or pretending:

His voice suddenly became more serious.

a serious article

serious about

Is she serious about giving up her job?

deadly/dead serious (=definitely not joking)

She sounded dead serious.

Marry Frank? You can’t be serious!

4 . CAREFUL serious attention/consideration/thought careful and thorough attention etc:

I’ll give your suggestion serious consideration.

5 . QUIET/SENSIBLE someone who is serious is very quiet and sensible, and does not laugh and joke much:

a serious student

6 . WORRIED/UNHAPPY slightly worried or unhappy:

You look serious. What’s wrong?

7 . ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP a serious romantic relationship is likely to continue for a long time:

It’s serious – they’ve been seeing each other for six months.

serious about

Are you really serious about her?

serious boyfriend/girlfriend

8 . SPORT/ACTIVITY [only before noun] very interested in an activity or subject, and spending a lot of time doing it:

He’s become a serious golfer since he retired.

Chris is a serious photographer.

9 . VERY GOOD [only before noun] informal very good and often expensive:

He’s got a serious car!

10 . LARGE AMOUNT [only before noun] informal used to emphasize that you are talking about a large amount of something:

In industry, you can earn serious money.

• • •


■ nouns

▪ a serious problem

Vandalism is a serious problem in the area.

▪ a serious injury/illness

The driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

▪ a serious accident

He is recovering from a serious accident.

▪ serious damage

The explosion sparked a fire which caused serious damage to their flat.

▪ a serious threat

In the developed world, over-consumption is now a serious threat to health.

▪ a serious crime/offence

Kidnapping is a serious crime.

▪ serious trouble

The economy was in serious trouble.

▪ serious consequences

Neglecting to make a proper will can have serious consequences.

• • •


■ very bad

▪ serious very bad – used about problems, accidents, illnesses, or crimes:

Violent crime is a serious problem in and around the capital.


The boy was taken to hospital with serious head injuries.


Fortunately, the damage to the car was not serious.

▪ severe very serious – used about problems, injuries, and illnesses:

He suffered severe injuries in a car crash.


The problem became so severe that they had to bring water in from other countries.


severe epilepsy

▪ grave used about a situation that is very serious and worrying, especially because it is dangerous or seems likely to get worse:

A thick fog descended and I knew that we were in grave danger.


The situation is grave – war now seems inevitable.

▪ acute used about an illness, problem, or situation that has become very serious or dangerous, and needs to be dealt with quickly:

She was taken to the hospital suffering from acute appendicitis.


In San Diego, the shortage of skilled workers is acute.

▪ desperate used about a situation or problem that is very serious or dangerous, especially because a lot of people need urgent help:

The situation is desperate – people here need aid before the harsh winter sets in.


The hospital is full of people in desperate need of medical attention.

▪ critical used about a situation that is very serious and dangerous and might get worse suddenly:

In 1991, the food supply situation became critical.


Eight people were killed and four are still in a critical condition.

▪ life-threatening used about a situation, illness, or condition in which someone could die:

Her child had a potentially life-threatening illness.


The situation was not life-threatening, but it was very worrying.

▪ be a matter of life and death spoken to be extremely serious – used when a situation is very urgent or important:

For people living with HIV, getting the right treatment is literally a matter of life and death.

■ not joking

▪ serious not joking or laughing, or not pretending:

His voice sounded serious.


They seem to be serious about their relationship.

▪ solemn very serious because of an important or sad occasion or ceremony:

My father looked solemn, the way grown-ups look at funerals.


The judge read the verdict in a solemn voice.

▪ grave written quiet and very serious – used especially about the way people look when something important or worrying happens:

She consulted Doctor Staples and returned looking grave.


He listened with a grave expression on his face.

▪ sombre British English ( also somber American English ) /ˈsɒmbə $ ˈsɑːmbər/ written sad, quiet, or serious because something unpleasant or worrying has happened or is going to happen:

They sat in sombre silence.


The meeting began in a sombre mood.

▪ earnest very serious and sincere – often used about someone who is young and not very experienced:

He was a rather earnest-looking young man.


‘That’s wrong,’ she said, her voice sounding very earnest.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.