- serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker.
- showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty.
- seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention.
- full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest.
- a portion of something, given or done in advance as a pledge of the remainder.
- Law. earnest money.
- anything that gives pledge, promise, or indication of what is to follow.
- serious in mind or intentionan earnest student
- showing or characterized by sincerity of intentionan earnest promise
- demanding or receiving serious attention
- in earnest with serious or sincere intentions
- a part or portion of something given in advance as a guarantee of the remainder
- Also called: earnest money contract law something given, usually a nominal sum of money, to confirm a contract
- any token of something to follow; pledge; assurance
from Old English eornoste (adj.) “zealous,” or from Old English noun eornost “seriousness, serious intent” (surviving only in the phrase in earnest), from Proto-Germanic *ern “vigor, briskness” (cf. Old Saxon ernust, Old High German arnust “seriousness, firmness, struggle,” German Ernst “seriousness;” Gothic arniba “safely, securely;” Old Norse ern “able, vigorous,” jarna “fight, combat”). The proper name Ernest (literally “resolute”) is from the same root. Related: Earnestly; earnestness.
see in earnest.