Definition of dear in English:


Line breaks: dear
Pronunciation: /dɪə



Back to top  


chiefly British Back to top  
  • 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.
    at a high price, at an excessive price, at an exorbitant price, at high cost, at great cost


Back to top  
  • 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.



More 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'.

More definitions of dear

Definition of dear in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day milord
Pronunciation: mɪˈlɔːd
used to address an English nobleman