Definition of adverse
- an adverse verdict
- heard testimony adverse to their position
- adverse criticism
- adverse drug effects
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
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.
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.
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