dear


adjective, dear·er, dear·est.

  1. beloved or loved: a dear friend.
  2. (used in the salutation of a letter as an expression of affection or respect or as a conventional greeting): Dear Sir.
  3. precious in one’s regard; cherished: our dearest possessions.
  4. heartfelt; earnest: one’s dearest wish.
  5. high-priced; expensive: The silk dress was too dear.
  6. charging high prices: That shop is too dear for my budget.
  7. excessive; high: a dear price to pay for one’s independence.
  8. Obsolete. difficult to get; scarce.
  9. Obsolete. worthy; honorable.

noun

  1. a person who is good, kind, or generous: You’re a dear to help me with the work.
  2. a beloved one.
  3. (sometimes initial capital letter) an affectionate or familiar term of address, as to a child or romantic partner (sometimes offensive when used to a stranger, subordinate, etc.)

adverb

  1. dearly; fondly.
  2. at a high price: That painting cost me dear.

interjection

  1. (used as an exclamation of surprise, distress, etc.): Oh dear, what a disappointment! Dear me! What’s all that noise?

adjective, dear·er, dear·est. Archaic.

  1. hard; grievous.

adjective

  1. beloved; precious
  2. used in conventional forms of address preceding a title or name, as in Dear Sir or my dear Mr Smith
  3. (postpositive foll by to) important; closea wish dear to her heart
    1. highly priced
    2. charging high prices
  4. appealing or prettywhat a dear little ring!
  5. for dear life urgently or with extreme vigour or desperation

interjection

  1. used in exclamations of surprise or dismay, such as Oh dear! and dear me!

noun

  1. (often used in direct address) someone regarded with affection and tenderness; darling

adverb

  1. dearlyhis errors have cost him dear
adj.

Old English deore “precious, valuable, costly, loved, beloved,” from Proto-Germanic *deurjaz (cf. Old Saxon diuri, Old Norse dyrr, Old Frisian diore, Middle Dutch dure, Dutch duur, Old High German tiuri, German teuer), ultimate origin unknown. Used interjectorily since 1690s. As a polite introductory word to letters, it is attested from mid-15c. As a noun, from late 14c., perhaps short for dear one, etc.

In addition to the idiom beginning with dear

  • dear me

also see:

  • for dear life
  • nearest and dearest

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