• synonyms


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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.
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  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.)
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  1. dearly; fondly.
  2. at a high price: That painting cost me dear.
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  1. (used as an exclamation of surprise, distress, etc.): Oh dear, what a disappointment! Dear me! What's all that noise?
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Origin of dear1

before 900; Middle English dere, Old English dēore; cognate with Old High German tiuri, Old Norse dȳrr
Related formsdear·ly, adverbdear·ness, noun


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1. darling, cherished. 5. See expensive.


or dere

adjective, dear·er, dear·est. Archaic.
  1. hard; grievous.
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Origin of dear2

before 1000; Middle English dere, Old English dēor brave, bold, severe
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

valuable, pet, familiar, darling, close, intimate, high, steep, fancy, stiff, loved, precious, respected, cherished, endeared, esteemed, prized, treasured, costly, high-priced

Examples from the Web for dearer

Historical Examples

  • The memory of you will be dearer to me than comfort from all else.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • But I discharge you of it; at least, while I have the happiness of nearer and dearer relations.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • She could have kissed her face in the glass, it was so like that other dearer one.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • What rendered him yet dearer to us, was that there was enmity between him and Mrs. Mitchell.

  • Steenie's unselfish solitude of soul made him every day dearer to her.

    Heather and Snow

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for dearer


  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
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  1. used in exclamations of surprise or dismay, such as Oh dear! and dear me!
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  1. (often used in direct address) someone regarded with affection and tenderness; darling
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  1. dearlyhis errors have cost him dear
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Derived Formsdearness, noun

Word Origin

Old English dēore; related to Old Norse dӯrr
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 dearer



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dearer


In addition to the idiom beginning with dear

  • dear me

also see:

  • for dear life
  • nearest and dearest
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.