[seer-ee-uh l]


anything published, broadcast, etc., in short installments at regular intervals, as a novel appearing in successive issues of a magazine.
Library Science. a publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designation and intended to be continued indefinitely.


Origin of serial

From the New Latin word seriālis, dating back to 1835–45. See series, -al1
Related formsse·ri·al·ly, adverbnon·se·ri·al, noun, adjectivenon·se·ri·al·ly, adverb
Can be confusedcereal serial Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for serial

Contemporary Examples of serial

Historical Examples of serial

British Dictionary definitions for serial



a novel, play, etc, presented in separate instalments at regular intervals
a publication, usually regularly issued and consecutively numbered


of, relating to, or resembling a series
published or presented as a serial
of or relating to such publication or presentation
computing of or operating on items of information, instructions, etc, in the order in which they occurCompare parallel (def. 5)
of, relating to, or using the techniques of serialism
logic maths (of a relation) connected, transitive, and asymmetric, thereby imposing an order on all the members of the domain, as less than on the natural numbersSee also ordering
Derived Formsserially, adverb

Word Origin for serial

C19: from New Latin seriālis, from Latin seriēs series
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 serial

"coming in regular succession," 1840, from series + -al (1); popularized in reference to Dickens' novels, published one part at a time in periodicals (as opposed to all at once in a book). Found to be a useful word and given wide application. Serial number, indicating position in a series, first recorded 1866, originally of papers, packages, etc.; of soldiers from 1918. Serial killer is first attested 1981 (in relation to John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy), though serial had been used in connection with murders since the early 1960s. Related: Serially.


1846, from serial (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper