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See also: Dear, de-ar, and dèar


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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English dere, from Old English dīere (of great value or excellence, expensive, beloved), from Proto-West Germanic *diurī, from Proto-Germanic *diurijaz (dear, precious, expensive). Cognate with Scots dere, deir (of great value or worth, highly valued, precious, beloved), Saterland Frisian djuur (precious, dear, costly, expensive), Dutch duur (costly, precious), German teuer (costly, precious), German Low German düür, Danish dyr (expensive), Swedish dyr (expensive), Norwegian dyr (expensive), Icelandic dýr (expensive), Yiddish טייַער (tayer, precious,expensive).


dear (comparative dearer or more dear, superlative dearest or most dear)

  1. (Ireland, UK) High in price; expensive.
    The dearer the jewel, the greater the love expressed.
    • c. 1596–1598 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene i]:
      There's more depends on this than on the value.
      The dearest ring in Venice will I give you,
      And find it out by proclamation:
      Only for this, I pray you, pardon me.
    • 1902, Briquettes as Fuel in Foreign Countries (report of the United States Bureau of Foreign Commerce):
      This water is sold for 50 cents per ton, which is not dear under the circumstances.
    • 1966, The Beatles (lyrics and music), “When I'm Sixty-Four”:
      Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear.
  2. Loved; lovable.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, translated by H.L. Brækstad, Folk and Fairy Tales, page 62:
      "Yes, children dear, wait a bit till it turns itself," she answered - she ought to have said "till I turn it"[.]
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      So this was my future home, I thought! [] Backed by towering hills, the but faintly discernible purple line of the French boundary off to the southwest, a sky of palest Gobelin flecked with fat, fleecy little clouds, it in truth looked a dear little city; the city of one's dreams.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, 1st Australian edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1962, →OCLC, page 129:
      "We shall have to put up with whitebait. And, of course, a dear little chicken with peas and roast potatoes."
  3. Lovely; kind.
  4. Loving, affectionate, heartfelt
    Such dear embrace tenderly comforts even in this dear sorrow.
  5. Precious to or greatly valued by someone.
    The dearer the giver, the dearer the trinket he brings!
  6. A formal way to start (possibly after my) addressing somebody at the beginning of a letter, memo etc.
    Dear Sir/Madam/Miss, please notice our offices will be closed during the following bank holidays: [].
  7. A formal way to start (often after my) addressing somebody one likes or regards kindly.
    My dear friend, I feel better as soon as you come sit beside my sickbed!
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter VII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      “A very welcome, kind, useful present, that means to the parish. By the way, Hopkins, let this go no further. We don't want the tale running round that a rich person has arrived. Churchill, my dear fellow, we have such greedy sharks, and wolves in lamb's clothing. []
  8. An ironic way to start (often after my) addressing an inferior or someone one dislikes.
    My dear man, you ought to think twice about who you're trying to blackmail.
  9. (obsolete) Noble.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


dear (plural dears)

  1. A very kind, loving person.
    My little cousin is such a dear, always drawing me pictures.
  2. A beloved person.
  3. An affectionate, familiar term of address, such as used between husband and wife.
    Pass me the salt, would you dear?
  4. An elderly person, especially a woman.
Derived terms[edit]


dear (third-person singular simple present dears, present participle dearing, simple past and past participle deared)

  1. (obsolete) To endear.
    • 1603, John Davies of Hereford, Microcosmos:
      Nor should a Sonne his Sire loue for reward, But for he is his Sire, in nature dear’d.
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra:
      I should have known no less: It hath been taught us from the primal state That he which is was wished until he were; And the ebbed man, ne'er loved till ne'er worth love, Comes deared by being lacked.
    • 1679, Benjamin Keach, The Glorious Lover, page 164:
      Nay, hide him in thy house, and also show Such deared love to him, as to delight In his base company both day and night?
Derived terms[edit]


dear (comparative more dear, superlative most dear)

  1. Dearly; at a high price.
Derived terms[edit]



  1. (dated) Indicating surprise, pity, or disapproval.
    Dear, dear! Whatever were they thinking?
See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English dere (fierce, severe, hard, deadly), from Old English dēor, dȳr (brave, bold; severe, dire, vehement), from Proto-Germanic *deuzaz. Cognate with the above.


dear (comparative more dear, superlative most dear)

  1. Severe, or severely affected; sore.
  2. (obsolete) Fierce.
    The Christens found the heathens dear, as the lion doth the bear.





dear (present analytic dearann, future analytic dearfaidh, verbal noun dearadh, past participle deartha)

  1. to draw (design)



Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
dear dhear ndear
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.



From Middle English dere, from Old English dīere, from Proto-West Germanic *diurī.




  1. dear
      Hea marreet dear Phielim to his sweet Jauane.
      He married dear Phelim to his sweet Joan.


  • Jacob Poole (d. 1827) (before 1828), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, published 1867, page 94