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verb wor·ry \ˈwər-ē, ˈwə-rē\

Simple Definition of worry

  • : to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen

  • : to make (someone) anxious or upset : to cause (someone) to worry

Full Definition of worry


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 dial British :  choke, strangle

  3. 2 a :  to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat b :  to shake or pull at with the teeth <a terrier worrying a rat> c :  to touch or disturb something repeatedly d :  to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling

  4. 3 a :  to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment :  torment b :  to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort

  5. 4 :  to afflict with mental distress or agitation :  make anxious

  6. intransitive verb
  7. 1 dial British :  strangle, choke

  8. 2 :  to move, proceed, or progress by unceasing or difficult effort :  struggle

  9. 3 :  to feel or experience concern or anxiety :  fret <worrying about his health>

wor·ried·ly play \-(r)ēd-lē, -(r)əd-\ adverb
wor·ri·er play \-(r)ē-ər\ noun
wor·ry·ing·ly adverb

Examples of worry

  1. We didn't want you to worry.

  2. Don't worry. You'll be fine.

  3. Don't make your parents worry.

  4. When they didn't call after two hours, we began to worry.

  5. They were fine. We needn't have worried.

  6. His poor health worries me.

  7. It doesn't seem to worry him that rain is in the forecast.

  8. We didn't tell you about the accident because we didn't want to worry you.

Origin of worry

Middle English worien, from Old English wyrgan; akin to Old High German wurgen to strangle, Lithuanian veržti to constrict

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of worry

worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts. worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation <pursued a policy of worrying the enemy>. annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks <you're doing that just to annoy me>. harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power <harassed on all sides by creditors>. harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment <the strikers had been harried by thugs>. plague implies a painful and persistent affliction <plagued all her life by poverty>. pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks <constantly pestered with trivial complaints>. tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath <children teased the dog>.



noun wor·ry

Simple Definition of worry

  • : a feeling of concern about something bad that might happen : the state or condition of worrying about something

  • : a problem or concern : something that causes you to be worried

Full Definition of worry

plural worries

  1. 1 a :  mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated :  anxiety b :  an instance or occurrence of such distress or agitation

  2. 2 :  a cause of worry :  trouble, difficulty

Examples of worry

  1. She finally ended months of worry over her credit card debt when she finished paying off her bill.

  2. His high blood pressure is cause for worry.

  3. Our greatest worry is that she'll get lost.

  4. His only worry right now is getting to the airport on time.

  5. His mother's health is a constant worry.


First Known Use of worry


Synonym Discussion of worry

care, concern, solicitude, anxiety, worry mean a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this. care implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension <a face worn by years of care>. concern implies a troubled state of mind because of personal interest, relation, or affection <crimes caused concern in the neighborhood>. solicitude implies great concern and connotes either thoughtful or hovering attentiveness toward another <acted with typical maternal solicitude>. anxiety stresses anguished uncertainty or fear of misfortune or failure <plagued by anxiety and self-doubt>. worry suggests fretting over matters that may or may not be real cause for anxiety <financial worries>.

Seen and Heard

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


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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