[ mod-ern ]
/ ˈmɒd ərn /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: modern / moderns on Thesaurus.com

There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of modern

1490–1500; from Middle French moderne, from Late Latin modernus, equivalent to Latin mod(o), mod(ō), “lately, just now” (originally ablative singular of modusmode1) + -ernus adjective suffix of time

synonym study for modern

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.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does modern mean?

Modern means relating to the present time, as in modern life. It also means up-to-date and not old, as in modern technology.

Apart from these general senses, modern is often used in a more specific way to refer to the current historical period. Even more specifically, it refers to a style or movement in the arts developed during the 1900s and characterized by innovation and experimentation that broke from past traditions. Such art is often described as belonging to the movement of modernism (which is sometimes capitalized).

Modern can sometimes be used as a noun referring to a person in modern times, as in The worldviews of ancients and moderns are very different, but this is uncommon.

Example: Many people are overwhelmed by the fast pace of the modern workplace.

Where does modern come from?

In history, though, the modern era is the period from the end of the Middle Ages to the present. In that sense, modern is technically a modern word—the first records of it come from the late 1400s. It comes from the Latin modernus, from modō, meaning “just recently.”

Most of the time, modern simply refers to something related to the present or recent past, as opposed to the past or the distant past. In this sense, it is especially used in phrases like modern life and modern times. Our modern life involves modern technology and modern conveniences—meaning the latest stuff.

In its more specific use to refer to things involved with the modernist art movement, modern can be applied to works in many different art forms, including painting, literature, architecture, and others. The collections of modern art museums often feature items from the late 1800s and later. When art is described as postmodern, it doesn’t mean it’s somehow from the future. It means it belongs to a movement or style characterized by a rejection of modernism, not modernness or modernity.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to modern?

What are some synonyms for modern?

What are some words that share a root or word element with modern



What are some words that often get used in discussing modern?


How is modern used in real life?

Modern is commonly used to describe current or contemporary things—the things we interact with in the present. Its meaning in reference to art is more specifically related to the modernist movement.



Try using modern!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of modern?

A. current
B. outdated
C. newfangled
D. contemporary

How to use modern in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for modern

/ (ˈmɒdən) /

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 strokesCompare old face

Derived forms of modern

modernly, adverbmodernness, noun

Word Origin for modern

C16: from Old French, from Late Latin modernus, from modō (adv) just recently, from modus mode
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