Loading...

American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

Dictionary Search

Earnest


EARNEST, adjective ern'est.

1. Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain; having a longing desire; warmly engaged or incited.

They are never more earnest to disturb us, than when they see us most earnest in this duty.

2. Ardent; warm; eager; zealous; animated; importunate; as earnest in love; earnest in prayer.

3. Intent; fixed.

On that prospect strange

Their earnest eyes were fixed.

4. Serious; important; that is, really intent or engaged; whence the phrase, in earnest To be in earnest is to be really urging or stretching towards an object; intent on a pursuit. Hence, from fixed attention, comes the sense of seriousness in the pursuit, as opposed to trifling or jest. Are you in earnest or in jest?

EARNEST, noun ern'est. Seriousness; a reality; a real event; as opposed to jesting or feigned appearance.

Take heed that this jest do not one day turn to earnest

And given in earnest what I begg'd in jest.

1. First fruits; that which is in advance, and gives promise of something to come. Early fruit may be an earnest of fruit to follow. The first success in arms may be an earnest of future success. The christian's peace of mind in this life is an earnest of future peace and happiness. Hence earnest or earnest-money is a first payment or deposit giving promise or assurance of full payment. Hence the practice of giving an earnest to ratify a bargain.

This sense of the word is primary, denoting that which goes before, or in advance. Thus the earnest of the spirit is given to saints, as a pledge or assurance of their future enjoyment of God's presence and favor.