Simple Definition of chary
: cautious about doing something
Examples of chary in a sentence
<chary investors who weren't burned by the dot-com bust>
Did You Know?
It was sorrow that bred the caution of "chary." In Middle English chary meant "sorrowful," a sense that harks back to the word's Old English ancestor "caru" (an early form of "care," and another term that originally meant "sorrow" or "grief"). In a sense switch that demonstrates that love can be both bitter and sweet, "chary" later came to mean "dear" or "cherished." That's how 16th century English dramatist George Peele used it: "the chariest and the choicest queen, That ever did delight my royal eyes." Both sorrow and affection have largely faded from "chary," however, and in Modern English the word is most often used as a synonym of either "careful" or "sparing."
Origin of chary
Middle English, sorrowful, dear, from Old English cearig sorrowful, from caru sorrow — more at care
First Known Use: 15th century
Synonym Discussion of chary
Seen and Heard
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