Definition of serial in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈsɪərɪəl/


1Consisting of, forming part of, or taking place in a series: a serial publication
More example sentences
  • The journal begins serial publication this spring.
  • Primary outputs are defined as publications in the serial peer reviewed literature, while the secondary outputs are taken to be evidence based clinical guidelines.
  • It does not hold annual meetings or sponsor a serial publication.
1.1 Linguistics (Of verbs) used in sequence to form a construction, as in they wanted, needed, longed for peace: the use of serial verbs
More example sentences
  • Similarly, in the Pacific, it has been suggested that there may be Austronesian substratum influence in the serial constructions found in Tok Pisin.
2Repeatedly committing the same offence and typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern: a serial killer
More example sentences
  • By throwing an odd assortment of characters into the path of a home-grown serial killer, the film is able to achieve a dramatic density sadly absent from the genre for a number of years.
  • So he may just be able to track down a serial killer with a penchant for committing perfect murders.
  • These guys all follow set patterns and, like any good movie serial killer, they're too open and flamboyant in their actions.
2.1Repeatedly following the same behaviour pattern: he was a serial adulterer serial monogamy
More example sentences
  • Despite the family image, a book of revelations published by a former chauffeur has painted Chirac as a serial adulterer.
  • He gives orders for other human beings to be blown away and he is a serial adulterer, but his power has unexpected limits.
  • He was also a serial adulterer, regularly confessing his sins before committing them afresh.
3 Music Using transformations of a fixed series of notes: the harmonic flow of serial music Schoenberg’s serial revolution
More example sentences
  • He also for a brief time came under the influence of Schoenberg and wrote serial music, all of which (if I remember right) he destroyed.
  • For example, forty years ago, not composing serial music meant not being a composer at all, and this was a clear tendency openly registered in books, articles and papers.
  • Powers's music from the 1980s deploys a considered synthesis of serial, atonal and tonal techniques.
4 Computing (Of a device) involving the transfer of data as a single sequence of bits.
Example sentences
  • The controller can concurrently perform the data transfer to and/or from the parallel and serial devices.
  • It is even possible to add servers with a click of a mouse while supporting BIOS-level control of almost any number of servers or serial devices.
  • You will see a list of serial devices; note that some will be built-in on your motherboard.
4.1(Of a processor) running only a single task, as opposed to multitasking.
Example sentences
  • A serial processor executes each iteration through the loop, doing all the work.
  • Besides, all neural networks at the moment are simulations that are written in software of an essentially serial nature which runs on serial processors.
  • If it won't run on serial processors, then where is the parallel machine that it will run on?


1A story or play appearing in regular instalments on television or radio or in a magazine: a new three-part drama serial
More example sentences
  • Each story in the serial would last a week, being spread over 5 weekday episodes.
  • The success of this venture as a magazine serial preceding the book, has the writer planning a sequel.
  • Fox is quite a rarity on television, as it is unusual for a serial of the time and of such length to have one author and one director.
2 (usually serials) (In a library) a periodical: [as modifier]: the Serials Librarian
More example sentences
  • Hopper also told the senate that there has been about a 25 percent decline in the number of serials purchased by the library in the past five years.
  • So when we built the Library at SLAC, we put the serials on punch cards.
  • She became a regular columnist for the Associated Negro Press and contributed poetry and reviews to numerous serials and collections.



Pronunciation: /sɪərɪˈalɪti/
Example sentences
  • The postcard can be thought of as an ambivalent object, produced between spatial and temporal locations, between seriality and personalization.
  • Not only does their very seriality suggest a relentless stream of crime, but the programmes themselves are organised around the repetitive replay of similar footage.
  • She has developed a means by which to make chance contend with narrative; lyricism with cacophony and seriality.


Mid 19th century: from series + -al, perhaps suggested by French sérial.

Words that rhyme with serial

arterial, bacterial, cereal, criterial, ethereal, ferial, funereal, immaterial, imperial, magisterial, managerial, material, ministerial, presbyterial, sidereal, venereal, biomaterial

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ser¦ial

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.