Hypertext Webster Gateway: "earnest"

From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary (easton)

The Spirit is the earnest of the believer's destined inheritance
(2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14). The word thus rendered is the
same as that rendered "pledge" in Gen. 38:17-20; "indeed, the
Hebrew word has simply passed into the Greek and Latin
languages, probably through commercial dealings with the
Phoenicians, the great trading people of ancient days.
Originally it meant no more than a pledge; but in common usage
it came to denote that particular kind of pledge which is a part
of the full price of an article paid in advance; and as it is
joined with the figure of a seal when applied to the Spirit, it
seems to be used by Paul in this specific sense." The Spirit's
gracious presence and working in believers is a foretaste to
them of the blessedness of heaven. God is graciously pleased to
give not only pledges but foretastes of future blessedness.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Earnest \Ear"nest\, a.
1. Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain or do;
zealous with sincerity; with hearty endeavor; heartfelt;
fervent; hearty; -- used in a good sense; as, earnest

An earnest advocate to plead for him. --Shak.

2. Intent; fixed closely; as, earnest attention.

3. Serious; important. [Obs.]

They whom earnest lets do often hinder. --Hooker.

Syn: Eager; warm; zealous; ardent; animated; importunate;
fervent; sincere; serious; hearty; urgent. See {Eager}.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Earnest \Ear"nest\, n. [AS. eornost, eornest; akin to OHG.
ernust, G. ernst; cf. Icel. orrosta battle, perh. akin to Gr.
? to excite, L. oriri to rise.]
Seriousness; reality; fixed determination; eagerness;

Take heed that this jest do not one day turn to
earnest. --Sir P.

And given in earnest what I begged in jest. --Shak.

{In earnest}, serious; seriously; not in jest; earnestly.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Earnest \Ear"nest\, v. t.
To use in earnest. [R.]

To earnest them [our arms] with men. --Pastor Fido

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Earnest \Ear"nest\, n. [Prob. corrupted fr. F. arrhes, L. arra,
arrha, arrhabo, Gr. 'arrabw`n, of Semitic origin, cf. Heb.
[=e]r[=a]v[=o]n; or perh. fr. W. ernes, akin to Gael. earlas,
perh. fr. L. arra. Cf. {Arles}, {Earles penny}.]
1. Something given, or a part paid beforehand, as a pledge;
pledge; handsel; a token of what is to come.

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of
the Spirit in our hearts. --2 Cor. i.

And from his coffers Received the golden earnest of
our death. --Shak.

2. (Law) Something of value given by the buyer to the seller,
by way of token or pledge, to bind the bargain and prove
the sale. --Kent. Ayliffe. Benjamin.

{Earnest money} (Law), money paid as earnest, to bind a
bargain or to ratify and prove a sale.

Syn: {Earnest}, {Pledge}.

Usage: These words are here compared as used in their
figurative sense. Earnest is not so strong as pledge.
An earnest, like first fruits, gives assurance, or at
least a high probability, that more is coming of the
same kind; a pledge, like money deposited, affords
security and ground of reliance for the future.
Washington gave earnest of his talent as commander by
saving his troops after Braddock's defeat; his
fortitude and that of his soldiers during the winter
at Valley Forge might rightly be considered a pledge
of their ultimate triumph.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

adj 1: characterized by a firm and humorless belief in the validity
of your opinions; "both sides were deeply in earnest,
even passionate"; "an entirely sincere and cruel
tyrant"; "a film with a solemn social message" [syn: {in
earnest(p)}, {sincere}, {solemn}]
2: earnest; "one's dearest wish"; "devout wishes for their
success"; "heartfelt condolences" [syn: {dear}, {devout},
3: not distracted by anything unrelated to the goal [syn: {businesslike}]
n : something of value given by one person to another to bind a

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