1 interjection The phrases `oh dear', `dear oh dear', `dear dear', and `dear me' are all used to show that you are surprised, upset, or annoyed because you have done something wrong, because something bad has happened etc. `Oh dear' is much more common than the others. `Dear oh dear' and `dear dear' are used to emphasize how surprised, upset, or annoyed you are. `Dear me' is a little old-fashioned: Oh dear I've broken the lamp. | “He's been taken into hospital.” “Oh dear!” | Dear oh dear, that's terrible news. | Dear, dear, I am sorry. Hope I didn't hurt you. | Dear me! I forgot to call Kathy and now it's too late. 2 noun (C)
1 used when speaking to someone you love: How did the interview go, dear?
2 spoken a friendly way of speaking to someone you do not know, for example, to a customer in a shop: Can I help you, dear?
3 spoken especially BrE someone who is very kind and helpful: Be a dear and make me some coffee.
4 old dear BrE a fairly rude expression meaning an old woman
3 adjective
1 Dear used before someone's name or title when you begin a letter: Dear Madam | Dear Meg
2 BrE expensive: I didn't buy it because it was too dear.
3 formal a dear friend or relative is very important to you and you love them a lot: Mark had become a dear friend. | be dear to sb: His sister was very dear to him.
4 for dear life if you run, fight, climb etc for dear life, you do it as fast or as well as you can because you are afraid
4 adverb cost sb dear to cause a lot of trouble and suffering for someone: Carolyn's marriage to Pete cost her dear.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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