adverse

adjective
ad·verse | \ad-ˈvərs, ˈad-ˌ\

Definition of adverse 

1 : acting against or in a contrary direction : hostile hindered by adverse winds

2a : opposed to one's interests an adverse verdict heard testimony adverse to their position especially : unfavorable adverse criticism

b : causing harm : harmful adverse drug effects

3 archaic : opposite in position

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from adverse

adversely adverb
adverseness noun

Adverse vs. Averse

Many people find themselves confused when faced with the choice between adverse and averse. While these two adjectives have many similarities, they are not used interchangeably.

If you want to describe a negative reaction to something (such as a harmful side effect from medication) or dangerous meteorological conditions (such as a snowstorm), adverse is the correct choice; you would not say that you had an averse reaction to medication or that there was averse weather.

Averse is most commonly followed by the preposition to (as in "she is averse to shellfish"), but not in every case; you can, for example, describe someone as “risk averse." Normally, averse to signifies a degree of dislike and avoidance, but when preceded by the word not (as in “he was not averse to having another drink”), it may be used as a pointedly understated way to express an interest in something.

In short, adverse tends to be used to describe effects, conditions, and results; while averse refers to feelings and inclinations.

Examples of adverse in a Sentence

The Bankruptcy Code requires that debtor's counsel be disinterested and not have an interest adverse to the estate. Lawyers Weekly USA, 4 Oct. 1999 On more than one occasion his decrees provoked riots, and there were those who voiced adverse opinions on the Duke in public. — Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower, 1992 The plant tolerates adverse conditions … — Dave Dunn, Fine Gardening, January/February 1991 all the adverse publicity really caused the movie star's popularity to suffer the adverse effects of the drug are too severe to allow it to be marketed
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The organization is especially troubled about the potential health effects on students who attend schools along the freeway, because children are more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of air pollution. Alex Park, Houston Chronicle, "Air pollution poses health risk to Houstonians, study finds," 3 July 2018 Kaminski’s own research investigates ways to reduce soccer’s adverse effects on the brain. Daniel Ackerman, Scientific American, "Avoiding the “Bobblehead Effect”: Strength Training Could Help Soccer Players," 29 June 2018 The study examined drugs that list possible adverse side effects including depression and suicide, but that does not mean the link was always well-characterized — or that people should stop taking a drug that could be helping them. Carolyn Y. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, "More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says," 13 June 2018 Importantly, Mendell said the patients treated so far are showing no signs of adverse immune reactions, no kidney issues, and no drops in red blood cells or platelet counts. Adam Feuerstein, STAT, "With tantalizing early results, Sarepta’s gene therapy for Duchenne raises hopes for ‘real change’," 19 June 2018 His son thinks his father had an adverse reaction to a combination of medicines, and perhaps lost consciousness before crashing into the river. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Family of missing Boise man says sheriff notified them of human bone found in river," 6 June 2018 But race-goers should keep water handy to avoid adverse reactions to the heat. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Indy 500 weather forecast 2018: What to expect," 23 May 2018 Clearly, all this is designed to provoke adverse reactions. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The House That Jack Built': Film Review | Cannes 2018," 15 May 2018 Mellet had an adverse reaction to pain medication, which left her weak, bleeding, and struggling not to faint on the flight back to Dublin the next day. Jennifer Duggan, Marie Claire, "Irish Women Want Their Bodies Back," 15 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adverse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of adverse

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adverse

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French advers, borrowed from Latin adversus "turned toward, facing, opposed," from past participle of advertere "to turn toward, direct" — more at advert entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about adverse

Statistics for adverse

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for adverse

The first known use of adverse was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for adverse

adverse

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of adverse

: bad or unfavorable : not good

adverse

adjective
ad·verse | \ad-ˈvərs \

Kids Definition of adverse

1 : acting against or in an opposite direction adverse winds

2 : not helping or favoring adverse circumstances

Other Words from adverse

adversely adverb Bad weather adversely affected attendance at the fair.

adverse

adjective
ad·verse | \ad-ˈvərs, ˈad-ˌvərs \

Legal Definition of adverse 

: opposed to one's interests : operating to one's detriment an adverse verdict

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on adverse

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!