growing to manhood or womanhood; youthful.
having the characteristics of adolescence or of an adolescent.


an adolescent person.

Origin of adolescent

1475–85; < Latin adolēscent- (stem of adolēscēns growing up, present participle of adolēscere), equivalent to adol(ē)- (see adult) + -ēsc- -esce + -ent- -ent
Related formsad·o·les·cent·ly, adverbpost·ad·o·les·cent, adjective, nounsub·ad·o·les·cent, adjective, noun
Can be confusedadolescence adolescents (see synonym study at adolescent)

Synonyms for adolescent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adolescent

Contemporary Examples of adolescent

Historical Examples of adolescent

  • The trouble was in his conditioning, started when he was an adolescent.

  • This then is the duality of my day and my night being: a duality so bitter to an adolescent.

  • I'll admit that the adolescent seems all that at times, but that is only on the surface.

  • It was cub rage, but it was adolescent cub, and it was somehow significant.

    Under the Law

    Edwina Stanton Babcock

  • She is ingenious, She used to strum ballads to the moon on my adolescent nerves.

    Very Woman

    Remy de Gourmont

British Dictionary definitions for adolescent



of or relating to adolescence
informal behaving in an immature way; puerile


an adolescent person
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

Word Origin and History for adolescent

mid-15c., "youth, young man," from Middle French adolescent (15c.) or directly from Latin adolescentem (nominative adolescens) "growing, near maturity, youthful," present participle of adolescere "grow up, come to maturity, ripen," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + alescere "be nourished," hence, "increase, grow up," inchoative of alere "to nourish" (see old). Adolesce was a back-formed verb used early 20c. by H.G. Wells, G.B. Shaw, Louis MacNeice, but it seems not to have taken.


1785, from Latin adolescentem (nominative adolescens) "growing, near maturity, youthful," present participle of adolescere "grow up, come to maturity, ripen" (see adolescent (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

adolescent in Medicine




Of, relating to, or undergoing adolescence.


A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.