Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Language: Old English
Origin: deore

dear

3 adjective
     
dear3 S2 W2 comparative dearer, superlative dearest
1

Dear

used before someone's name or title to begin a letter:
Dear Sir or Madam, ...
Dear Mrs. Wilson, ...
Dear Meg, ...
2 British English expensive [≠ cheap]:
Cars are 59% dearer in Britain than in Europe.
3 formal a dear friend or relative is very important to you and you love them a lot:
Mark became a dear friend.
be dear to somebody
His sister was very dear to him.
4

hold something dear

to think that something is very important:
Household economy was something my mother held very dear.
5

dear old...

British English spoken used to describe someone or something in a way that shows your love or liking of them [= good old]:
Here we are, back in dear old Manchester!
6

for dear life

written if you run, fight, hold on etc for dear life, you do it as fast or as well as you can because you are afraid:
She grasped the side of the boat and hung on for dear life.
7

the dear departed

British English literary a person you love who has died

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