Definition of dear in English:

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Pronunciation: /dir/


1Regarded with deep affection; cherished by someone: a dear friend he is very dear to me
More example sentences
  • She joined a whole secret league of the hunters after being separated from a friend very dear to her.
  • She went quietly about her daily life and was held in fond regard by her dear friends.
  • Let the honor of your friend be as dear to you as your own (Ethics of the Fathers 2: 15).
beloved, loved, adored, cherished, precious;
esteemed, respected, worshiped;
close, intimate, bosom, best
precious, treasured, valued, prized, cherished, special
1.1Used in speech as a way of addressing a person in a polite way: Martin, my dear fellow
More example sentences
  • An excellent idea, dear fellow, to not have a television.
  • Charles, my dear fellow, you've no idea how wonderful that made me feel.
  • I congratulate you, my dear fellow, I really do.
1.2Used as part of the polite introduction to a letter, especially in a formula denoting the degree of formality involved: Dear Sir or Madam
More example sentences
  • The letter began, "Dear Sir, This year I spent my summer holidays on the Isle of Lylt."
  • If the letter began ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’, you should sign off ‘Yours faithfully’.
  • By the way, I thought I remembered that right at the end of "Thirteen Days", JFK was dictating a letter beginning "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Anderson.
1.3Endearing; sweet: a dear little puppy
More example sentences
  • It was quite a pleasant excursion for the dear little thing.
  • It would seem that Sammy's dear little darling sister has struck again.
  • But Jimmy Grimble smells like a sweet and innocuous film from the get-go, thus we know someone's going to get their comeuppance, and it isn't dear little Jimmy.
endearing, adorable, lovable, appealing, engaging, charming, captivating, winsome, lovely, nice, pleasant, delightful, sweet, darling
Example sentences
  • I don't use the blank rune any longer, but before the Age of the Internet when information was dear and costly, I used it and didn't have a problem with it.
  • A Philadelphia customer admired the company's cut glass but hesitated to buy any because it was ‘most extravagantly dear.’
  • She was forced to pay the £4 taxi fare from her benefits, which soon became too dear.
expensive, costly, high-priced, overpriced, exorbitant, extortionate
informal pricey, spendy, steep, stiff
2.1(Of money) available as a loan only at a high rate of interest.
Example sentences
  • But it was not until 1996 that Payne was informed by an agricultural adviser that the farming development loan was ‘very dear money’.
  • A ledu official informed him the farm development loan he had signed with the bank was ‘very dear money’.
  • Right now, Britain's housing market is being hit by dear money.


1Used as an affectionate or friendly form of address: don’t you worry, dear
More example sentences
  • On hearing our lament for a country gone frankly insane, she simply suggested, ‘Well, dears, why don't you move here?
  • Never let it be said that I don't have high expectations of you, my dears.
  • Make sure you don't spoil your dinner, dears.
darling, dearest, love, beloved, sweetheart, sweet, precious, treasure
informal sweetie, sugar, honey, hon, baby, pet
1.1A sweet or endearing person.
Example sentences
  • But Sara didn't know how she could cheer the little dear's father.
  • Sanjuro, I am sure you are much more mature than my own son, so could you be a good sweet dear and pass me that bundt cake pan?
  • The poor old dear was probably out of her mind with worry by now.
lovable person;
darling, sweetheart, pet, angel, gem, treasure, star


At a high cost: they buy property cheaply and sell dear
More example sentences
  • Motoring organisations have been worried by new legislation, which is awaiting its second reading in the European Parliament, that could cost motorists dear.
  • Fraud Squad officers from North Yorkshire police say they have encountered reports of several ‘scams’ which have cost local people dear.
  • But the combination of political spin and media hype cost investors dear.


Used in expressions of surprise, dismay, or sympathy: oh dear, I’ve upset you
More example sentences
  • A few miles further on they will drive calmly past the carnage they have caused, and remark primly to each other ‘Oh dear!’
  • If you're a card-holder then you might be thinking ‘Oh dear!’
  • Yes - the number had been disconnected - oh dear!


for dear life

see life.



Pronunciation: /ˈdirnəs/
Example sentences
  • The dearness of provisions, the scarcity of fuel, and above all the failure of spinning work for the women and children have put it almost out of the power of the village poor to live by their industry.
  • The proportion of the dearness which the increased quantity of money brings about in the State will depend on the turn which this money will impart to consumption and circulation.
  • This development forced contemporary observers into positing an economic link between the perceived dearness of commodities in parts of Europe and the massive dissemination of New World gold and silver.


Old English dēore, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dier 'beloved', also to Dutch duur and German teuer 'expensive'.

  • Old English dēore is Germanic in origin and related to Dutch dier ‘beloved’, also to Dutch duur and German teuer ‘expensive’, showing that the word has long had the two senses it still has. Darling (Old English) was a pet form of ‘dear’, while dearth (Middle English) started out as a time when things were expensive through scarcity.

Words that rhyme with dear

adhere, Agadir, Anglosphere, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gear, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hand-rear, hear, here, Hosea, idea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, shear, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, volunteer, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dear

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