What does earnest mean?

Definitions for earnest
ˈɜr nɪstearnest

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word earnest.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. earnestadjective

    something of value given by one person to another to bind a contract

  2. earnest, sincere, solemnadjective

    characterized by a firm and humorless belief in the validity of your opinions

    "both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate"; "an entirely sincere and cruel tyrant"; "a film with a solemn social message"

  3. dear, devout, earnest, heartfeltadjective


    "one's dearest wish"; "devout wishes for their success"; "heartfelt condolences"

  4. businesslike, earnestadjective

    not distracted by anything unrelated to the goal


  1. Earnestnoun

    A male given name from the Germanic languages, of occasional usage, variant of Ernest.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. EARNESTadjective

    Etymology: eornest, Saxon.

    He which prayeth in due sort, is thereby made the more attentive to hear; and he which heareth, the more earnest to pray for the time which we bestow, as well in the one as the other. Richard Hooker, b. v. s. 34.

    On that prospect strange
    Their earnest eyes they fix’d; imagining,
    For one forbidden tree, a multitude
    Now ris’n, to work them further woe or shame. John Milton, P. L.

    They are never more earnest to disturb us, than when they see us most earnest in this duty. Brian Duppa.

  2. Earnestnoun

    Etymology: from the adjective.

    Take heed that this jest do not one day turn to earnest. Philip Sidney.

    I told you Klaius was the hapless wight,
    Who earnest found what they accounted play. Philip Sidney.

    Therewith she laugh’d, and did her earnest end in jest. F. Q.

    That high All-seer, which I dallied with,
    Hath turn’d my feigned prayer on my head,
    And given in earnest what I begg’d in jest. William Shakespeare, Rich. III.

    Nor can I think that God, Creator wise!
    Though threat’ning, will in earnest so destroy
    Us, his prime creatures. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. ix.

    But the main business and earnest of the world is money, dominion, and power. Roger L'Estrange, Fab. 5.

    We shall die in earnest, and it will not become us to live in jest. Government of the Tongue, s. 7.

    Sempronius, you have acted like yourself;
    One would have thought you had been half in earnest. Add.

    The apostles term it the handsel or earnest of that which is to come. Richard Hooker, b. v. s. 5.

    Which leader shall the doubtful vict’ry bless,
    And give an earnest of the war’s success. Edmund Waller.

    It may be looked upon as a pledge and earnest of quiet and tranquillity. George Smalridge, Sermons.

    The mercies received, great as they are, were earnests and pledges of greater. Francis Atterbury.

    You have conspir’d against our person,
    Join’d with an enemy proclaim’d, and from his coffers
    Receiv’d the golden earnest of our death. William Shakespeare, Henry V.

    Pay back the earnest penny received from Satan, and fling away his sin. Decay of Piety.


  1. earnest

    Earnest is a serious mental state that usually involves sincerity and intensity. It describes being genuine, showing deep sincerity or feeling, devoted, and determined in purpose. It can also refer to a portion of something, often money, given in advance as a show of good faith or intent.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Earnestnoun

    seriousness; reality; fixed determination; eagerness; intentness

  2. Earnestadjective

    ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain or do; zealous with sincerity; with hearty endeavor; heartfelt; fervent; hearty; -- used in a good sense; as, earnest prayers

  3. Earnestadjective

    intent; fixed closely; as, earnest attention

  4. Earnestadjective

    serious; important

  5. Earnestverb

    to use in earnest

  6. Earnestnoun

    something given, or a part paid beforehand, as a pledge; pledge; handsel; a token of what is to come

  7. Earnestnoun

    something of value given by the buyer to the seller, by way of token or pledge, to bind the bargain and prove the sale

  8. Etymology: [AS. eornost, eornest; akin to OHG. ernust, G. ernst; cf. Icel. orrosta battle, perh. akin to Gr. 'orny`nai to excite, L. oriri to rise.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Earnest

    ėr′nest, adj. showing strong desire: determined: eager to obtain: intent: sincere: serious.—n. seriousness: reality.—adv. Ear′nestly.—n. Ear′nestness. [A.S. eornost, seriousness; Ger. ernst.]

  2. Earnest

    ėr′nest, n. money given in token of a bargain made—also Ear′nest-mon′ey, Ear′nest-penn′y: a pledge: first-fruits. [Ety. obscure; possibly conn. with arles.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. earnest

    A sum paid in advance to secure a seaman's service.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Earnest is ranked #4452 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Earnest surname appeared 7,968 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 3 would have the surname Earnest.

    85.7% or 6,830 total occurrences were White.
    9.4% or 753 total occurrences were Black.
    2.2% or 179 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.5% or 120 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.7% or 59 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.3% or 27 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Anagrams for earnest »

  1. estrane

  2. nearest

  3. eastern

  4. sterane

How to pronounce earnest?

How to say earnest in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of earnest in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of earnest in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of earnest in a Sentence

  1. Chris Remington:

    The massive redemptions that occurred in 2014 and in the opening of 2015 have largely abated, and short-term rates haven't started rising yet so increased retail buying hasn't begun in earnest.

  2. Charles Dickens:

    Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.

  3. President Obama:

    President Obama, for President Obama part, mostly has steered clear of taking shots at President Obama successor. But an avalanche of criticism on Monday about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, mostly from Democratic leaders, gave way to an extended critique from Earnest during the White House press briefing. Speaking later with Trevor Noah, President Obama echoed Earnest in noting that Donald Trump had joked the Russians should hack Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s secret email server to recover tens of thousands of emails she had deleted prior to an FBI investigation. The President-elect in some of Trevor Noah political events specifically said to the Russians, hack Hillary's emails so we can finally find out what's going on and confirm our conspiracy theories.

  4. Josh Earnest:

    The president's comments were more in line with what officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity told CNN and other outlets after the ships were deployed Monday : that the U.S. ships were moved closer to Yemen to monitor and dissuade the Iranian convoy. Josh Earnest, though, focused on the need for the U.S. Navy ships to keep the region's waters safe for commerce. READ : Rubio, Kirk : No nuclear deal unless Iran releases reporter The movement of the -- of this particular aircraft carrier would augment the American military presence in the Gulf of Aden and would send a clear signal about our continued insistence about the free flow of commerce and the freedom of movement in the region.

  5. Confucius:

    I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.

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Translations for earnest

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"earnest." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 26 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/earnest>.

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    irregularly slashed and jagged as if torn
    • A. numinous
    • B. irascible
    • C. currish
    • D. lacerate

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