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2 definitions found
 for in earnest
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Earnest \Ear"nest\ ([~e]r"n[e^]st), n. [AS. eornost, eornest;
     akin to OHG. ernust, G. ernst; cf. Icel. orrosta battle,
     perh. akin to Gr. 'orny`nai to excite, L. oriri to rise.]
     Seriousness; reality; fixed determination; eagerness;
     [1913 Webster]
           Take heed that this jest do not one day turn to
           earnest.                                 --Sir P.
     [1913 Webster]
           And given in earnest what I begged in jest. --Shak.
     [1913 Webster]
     In earnest, serious; seriously; not in jest; earnestly.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  in earnest
      adv 1: in a serious manner; "talking earnestly with his son";
             "she started studying snakes in earnest"; "a play dealing
             seriously with the question of divorce" [syn:
             seriously, earnestly, in earnest]

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