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with sincerity. (*Typically: act ~; be ~; speak ~.) I've done all the research I need. I spent the day writing the paper in earnest. Mary's comments were in earnest. She really meant them.
with full effort and attention Peace talks began in earnest after four days of bloody fighting in September.
Usage notes: usually used to emphasize a change from a period of less effort or attention: The presidential campaign began in earnest on Labor Day.
1. With purposeful or sincere intent, as in We settled down to study in earnest. [c. a.d. 1000]
2. Also, in dead earnest. Serious, determined, as in We thought he was joking, but he was in earnest, or I'm in dead earnest about selling the business. In the variant, from the late 1800s, dead means "completely" or "thoroughly" and is used purely for emphasis. [c. a.d. 1000]
1. With a purposeful or sincere intent: settled down to study in earnest for the examination.
2. Serious; determined: "Both sides are deeply in earnest, with passions that approximate those of civil war" (Conor Cruise O'Brien).