adjective, dear·er, dear·est. Archaic.
- hard; grievous.
- beloved; precious
- used in conventional forms of address preceding a title or name, as in Dear Sir or my dear Mr Smith
- (postpositive foll by to) important; closea wish dear to her heart
- highly priced
- charging high prices
- appealing or prettywhat a dear little ring!
- for dear life urgently or with extreme vigour or desperation
- used in exclamations of surprise or dismay, such as Oh dear! and dear me!
- (often used in direct address) someone regarded with affection and tenderness; darling
- dearlyhis errors have cost him dear
Old English deore “precious, valuable, costly, loved, beloved,” from Proto-Germanic *deurjaz (cf. Old Saxon diuri, Old Norse dyrr, Old Frisian diore, Middle Dutch dure, Dutch duur, Old High German tiuri, German teuer), ultimate origin unknown. Used interjectorily since 1690s. As a polite introductory word to letters, it is attested from mid-15c. As a noun, from late 14c., perhaps short for dear one, etc.
In addition to the idiom beginning with dear
- dear me
- for dear life
- nearest and dearest