: having an active feeling of repugnance, dislike, or distaste
usually used with to
She was not averse to taking chances.
He seems to be averse to strenuous exercise.
commonly used in compounds both with and without a hyphen
a conservative risk-averse investor
a crowd averse teen
aversely adverb
averseness noun

Did you know?

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for averse

disinclined, hesitant, reluctant, loath, averse mean lacking the will or desire to do something indicated.

disinclined implies lack of taste for or inclination.

disinclined to move again
disinclined for reading

hesitant implies a holding back especially through fear or uncertainty.

hesitant about asking for a date

reluctant implies a holding back through unwillingness.

a reluctant witness

loath implies hesitancy because of conflict with one's opinions, predilections, or liking.

seems loath to trust anyone

averse implies a holding back from or avoiding because of distaste or repugnance.

averse to hard work
not averse to an occasional drink

Examples of averse in a Sentence

I'm not averse to broccoli if it's cooked right.
Recent Examples on the Web Pike, who was nominated for her role as the film's aristocratic matriarch, dressed in a look befitting the film’s last act (for the spoiler averse: don’t Google it). Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 8 Jan. 2024 CEOs who are also chairs may also be better positioned to take risks during periods of uncertainty, just when competitors are becoming more risk averse. Bylila MacLellan, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 Consider Your Risks No entrepreneur is entirely risk averse, but understanding what is a manageable amount of liability to take on is important. Dr Byron Cole, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Fund managers are less risk averse than in August thanks to improving views on the economy, according to the S&P Global Investment Manager Index. Jack Pitcher, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2023 Whereas most entrepreneurs are risk averse, Musk is addicted to the thrill of it, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel told Isaacson. Paige Hagy, Fortune, 12 Sep. 2023 Its commercial film output is largely dominated by production committees, which are risk averse pacts between Japanese media, finance and advertising companies. Patrick Frater, Variety, 11 Sep. 2023 The investors behind it, often real estate trusts, have historically been risk averse, said Swidler. Jon Marcus, BostonGlobe.com, 27 July 2023 Topping it off, the draft was shortened to five rounds, making teams far more risk averse. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 10 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'averse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin aversus, past participle of avertere — see avert

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of averse was in 1597

Dictionary Entries Near averse

Cite this Entry

“Averse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/averse. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: having an active and strong dislike
averse to exercise
aversely adverb
averseness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on averse

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