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[mod-ern] /ˈmɒd ərn/
of or relating to present and recent time; not ancient or remote:
modern city life.
characteristic of present and recent time; contemporary; not antiquated or obsolete:
modern viewpoints.
of or relating to the historical period following the Middle Ages:
modern European history.
of, relating to, or characteristic of contemporary styles of art, literature, music, etc., that reject traditionally accepted or sanctioned forms and emphasize individual experimentation and sensibility.
(initial capital letter) new (def 12).
Typography. noting or descriptive of a font of numerals in which the body aligns on the baseline, as 1234567890.
Compare old style (def 3).
a person of modern times.
a person whose views and tastes are modern.
Printing. a type style differentiated from old style by heavy vertical strokes and straight serifs.
Origin of modern
1490-1500; < Middle French moderne < Late Latin modernus, equivalent to Latin mod(o), mod(ō) lately, just now (orig. ablative singular of modus mode1) + -ernus adj. suffix of time
Related forms
modernly, adverb
modernness, noun
antimodern, adjective, noun
antimodernly, adverb
antimodernness, noun
hypermodern, adjective
nonmodern, adjective, noun
nonmodernly, adverb
nonmodernness, noun
premodern, adjective
promodern, adjective
pseudomodern, adjective
quasi-modern, adjective
supermodern, adjective
unmodern, adjective
1. Modern, recent, late apply to that which is near to or characteristic of the present as contrasted with any other time. Modern is applied to those things that exist in the present age, especially in contrast to those of a former age or an age long past; hence the word sometimes has the connotation of up-to-date and, thus, good: modern ideas. That which is recent is separated from the present or the time of action by only a short interval; it is new, fresh, and novel: recent developments. Late may mean nearest to the present moment: the late reports on the battle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for modernness
Historical Examples
  • This change and desecration, this inroad of modernness, merely completes its eternity.

    The Spirit of Rome Vernon Lee
  • And what makes this exclusiveness the more repulsive is its modernness.

    The Sympathy of Religions Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Painted some thirty years later, it is interesting to see what it has gained in “modernness.”

    The Venetian School of Painting

    Evelyn March Phillipps
  • But the third drawing in Fig. 18 is remarkable alike for the modernness both of the bow and the posture of the hand holding it.

  • There is the same contrast between the antiquity of the events and the modernness of the characters.

    The English Stage Augustin Filon
  • The villages proved disappointing both in their smallness and modernness, and none of them seemed worthy of any extended visit.

  • In the first place, any one must be struck with the modernness of the phrase and style.

  • The real charm of Sussex lies in its ancientness and in its simple, good-humoured country folk, not in its modernness.

    A Leisurely Tour in England

    James John Hissey
  • The modernness of all good books seems to give me an existence as wide as man.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It was the modernness of the Alexandrian authors, and perhaps their Egyptian flavour, which had justly attracted him.

British Dictionary definitions for modernness


of, involving, or befitting the present or a recent time; contemporary
of, relating to, or characteristic of contemporary styles or schools of art, literature, music, etc, esp those of an experimental kind
belonging or relating to the period in history from the end of the Middle Ages to the present
a contemporary person
(printing) a type style that originated around the beginning of the 19th century, characterized chiefly by marked contrast between thick and thin strokes Compare old face
Derived Forms
modernly, adverb
modernness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, from Late Latin modernus, from modō (adv) just recently, from modusmode
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for modernness



c.1500, "now existing;" 1580s, "of or pertaining to present or recent times;" from Middle French moderne (15c.) and directly from Late Latin modernus "modern" (Priscian, Cassiodorus), from Latin modo "just now, in a (certain) manner," from modo (adv.) "to the measure," ablative of modus "manner, measure" (see mode (n.1)). Extended form modern-day attested from 1909.

In Shakespeare, often with a sense of "every-day, ordinary, commonplace." Slang abbreviation mod first attested 1960. Modern art is from 1807 (by contrast to ancient); modern dance first attested 1912; first record of modern jazz is from 1954. Modern conveniences first recorded 1926.



1580s, "person of the present time" (contrasted to ancient, from modern (adj.). From 1897 as "one who is up to date."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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