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adjective, \ˈwer-ē\

Simple Definition of wary

  • : not having or showing complete trust in someone or something that could be dangerous or cause trouble

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of wary


  1. :  marked by keen caution, cunning, and watchfulness especially in detecting and escaping danger

warily play \ˈwer-ə-lē\ adverb
wariness play \ˈwer-ē-nəs\ noun

Examples of wary in a sentence

  1. Great critics are sometimes wary of great authors. Eliot and Pound usually sidled past Shakespeare. —William Logan, New York Times Book Review, 11 Feb. 2001

  2. Though sycamore wood was much used, pioneers were wary of the tree's fuzzy leaves, which they believed brought allergies and even consumption. —Arthur Plotnik, The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town, 2000

  3. Modern literary novelists … wary of neat solutions and happy endings, have tended to invest their mysteries with an aura of ambiguity and to leave them unresolved. —David Lodge, The Art of Fiction, 1992

  4. The store owner kept a wary eye on him.

  5. Investors are increasingly wary about putting money into stocks.

Origin of wary

1ware, from Middle English war, ware, from Old English wær careful, aware, wary; akin to Old High German giwar aware, attentive, Latin vereri to fear, Greek horan to see

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of wary

cautious, circumspect, wary, chary mean prudently watchful and discreet in the face of danger or risk. cautious implies the exercise of forethought usually prompted by fear of danger <a cautious driver>. circumspect suggests less fear and stresses the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding <circumspect in his business dealings>. wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in watching for danger and cunning in escaping it <keeps a wary eye on the competition>. chary implies a cautious reluctance to give, act, or speak freely <chary of signing papers without having read them first>.

WARY Defined for Kids


adjective \ˈwer-ē\

Definition of wary for Students


  1. :  very cautious <The baker's worries about ogres and bandits I thought exaggerated … However, I was wary of strangers. — Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted>

warily \ˈwer-ə-lē-\ adverb
wariness \ˈwer-ē-nəs\ noun

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up wary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to manage or play awkwardly

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