\ ˈdrī How to pronounce dry (audio) \
drier also dryer\ ˈdrī(-​ə)r How to pronounce dry (audio) \; driest also dryest\ ˈdrī-​əst How to pronounce dry (audio) \

Definition of dry

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : free or relatively free from a liquid and especially water Mix the dry ingredients first. as dry as a bone
b : not being in or under water happy to be on dry land
c meteorology : lacking precipitation or humidity a dry climate
2a : characterized by exhaustion of a supply of liquid a dry well
b geology : devoid of running water a dry ravine
c : devoid of natural moisture My throat was dry. dry leaves
d : no longer sticky or damp The paint isn't dry yet.
e : not giving milk a dry cow
f : lacking freshness : stale
g chemistry : anhydrous
3a : marked by the absence or scantiness of secretions a dry cough
b : not shedding or accompanied by tears a dry sob
4 obsolete : involving no bloodshed or drowning I would fain die a dry death— William Shakespeare
5a : marked by the absence of alcoholic beverages a dry party
b : prohibiting the manufacture or distribution of alcoholic beverages a dry county
6 : served or eaten without butter or margarine dry toast
7 alcohol
a : lacking sweetness : sec dry champagne
b : having all or most sugar fermented to alcohol a dry wine dry beer
8a : solid as opposed to liquid dry groceries
b : reduced to powder or flakes : dehydrated dry milk
c : dealing in dry goods or other nonperishable items After breakfast, we head to the wet market along Graham Street in Hong Kong. The wet market sells foodstuffs; the adjacent dry market offers clothes, shoes, and other retail items.— Rudy Maxa
9 : functioning without lubrication a dry clutch
10 of natural gas : containing no recoverable hydrocarbon (such as gasoline)
11 : requiring no liquid in preparation or operation a dry photocopying process
12a : not showing or communicating warmth, enthusiasm, or tender feeling : severe a dry style of painting
b : wearisome, uninteresting dry passages of description a dry lecturer
c : lacking embellishment : plain
13a : not yielding what is expected or desired : unproductive a writer going through a dry spell
b : having no personal bias or emotional concern the dry light of reason
14 : marked by matter-of-fact, ironic, or terse manner of expression a dry wit has a very dry sense of humor
15 : lacking smooth sound qualities a dry rasping voice
16 : being a dry run a dry rehearsal


dried; drying

Definition of dry (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to make dry (see dry entry 1) drying her hair

intransitive verb

: to become dry waiting for the paint to dry


plural drys

Definition of dry (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : the condition of being dry (see dry entry 1) : dryness
2 : something dry especially : a dry place

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Other Words from dry


dryish \ ˈdrī-​ish How to pronounce dry (audio) \ adjective
dryly or less commonly drily adverb
dryness noun


dryable \ ˈdrī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce dry (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for dry

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of dry in a Sentence

Adjective Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the milk and eggs. the dry heat of the desert We tried to stay dry in the rain by standing under a tree. The stream is bone dry. Are the clothes dry yet? The paint should be dry in a few hours. a stretch of dry weather a country with a very dry climate This plant does well in dry conditions. The chicken was dry and tasteless. Verb I'll wash the dishes if you dry them. Make sure you dry your hands. He dried himself with the towel. Stop crying and dry your eyes. I'll wash and you dry, okay? Your shirt is drying on the clothesline.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Most of these services consult vets for guidance on pet nutrition, and offer a range of tasty wet and dry options beyond your standard chicken and tuna. Laura Denby, SELF, "The Best Pet Food Delivery Services For Spoiled Fur Babies," 1 Jan. 2021 The Colorado River has always cycled through wet and dry periods. Ian James, AZCentral.com, "Climate's toll on the Colorado River: 'We can weather maybe a couple of years'," 1 Jan. 2021 Hot and dry conditions drove record-setting wildfires through vast areas of Australia, California and Brazil and Siberia. Ciara Nugent, Time, "2020 Was a Year of Climate Extremes. What Can We Expect in 2021?," 31 Dec. 2020 These lookalike UGGs are made from 100% top-quality sheepskin and managed to keep our tester's feet warm and dry. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Wednesday," 31 Dec. 2020 Prescribed burns need to be conducted when vegetation isn’t too wet or dry. J.d. Morris, SFChronicle.com, "California must burn more of its forests to save them. Is the public ready?," 28 Dec. 2020 The Times’ Paul Duginski reports that Las Vegas just had its driest six-month period on record, with no measurable rainfall, and that Los Angeles is warm and dry following the hottest November on record globally. Los Angeles Times, "Boiling Point: The coal industry comes tumbling down in the American West," 24 Dec. 2020 Zooming back around, the widespread warm and dry weather pushed drought to cover an additional four percent of the US last month, putting fully 49 percent of the country in that category. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "NOAA expects La Niña weather patterns through March," 18 Dec. 2020 Keeping your hands warm and dry during a duck hunt is no easy task. Ryan Chelius, Field & Stream, "9 Essential Pieces of Duck Hunting Gear for Beginners," 8 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Return the pan to the heat and continue to mix for 2 to 3 minutes to dry the dough slightly. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Ring in 2021 with a European flair," 29 Dec. 2020 Once the grease is out (do not let the shirt dry), spray a generous amount of a prewash spray on the stain and use your finger pads to work it into the fabric in gentle circular motions. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Good manners are for the road, too," 23 Nov. 2020 Let the glue dry overnight before removing the clamps. Neal Barrett, Popular Mechanics, "Make a Kitchen Table That Will Last Generations," 14 Nov. 2020 Let cool for 30 minutes, then remove and let air dry. Tara Duggan, SFChronicle.com, "5 recipes to bring comfort, from Hainanese chicken rice to stewed short ribs with adobo," 30 Oct. 2020 Wipe away the alcohol with a damp cloth and let the plates air dry completely before putting the flat iron away. Sian Babish, chicagotribune.com, "The best flat iron of 2020," 25 Sep. 2020 This hair dryer is designed to dry your hair as quickly as possible, while still minimizing heat damage. Greta Good, Chron, "Take 45% off this amazing cordless hair dryer," 23 Dec. 2020 But, in the immediate D.C. area, strong winds behind the front should mostly dry things out before temperatures fall below freezing. Washington Post, "Heavy storms and strong winds possible in D.C. area on Christmas Eve before temperatures plummet," 22 Dec. 2020 Shvalov watched YouTube videos to learn how to drill a well, erect a house and cut and dry his own firewood. New York Times, "How Russia Wins the Climate Crisis," 16 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As seen on Shark Tank, this unisex dry-up comes in four neutral colors—black, gunmetal, navy, and olive—and is made from a supersoft French terry. Ariel Wodarcyk, Field & Stream, "Stay Warm and Store Your Stuff in This Hoodie-Turned-Backpack," 23 Nov. 2020 As a result, fires raged for nearly two months last year across the dry-forest Chiquitania region, leading to the irreparable loss of some eight thousand square miles of virgin forest, and the destruction of fauna. Alma Guillermoprieto, The New York Review of Books, "Bolivia’s Tarnished Savior," 5 Nov. 2020 The fate of the Tai’s Til 4, which has been open near the corner of Ashland Avenue and Addison Street since 1961, is in the balance on Tuesday as people who live nearby consider whether to vote the precinct dry, the Tribune’s John Byrne writes. Lisa Donovan, chicagotribune.com, "The Spin: Lightfoot argues again that bars and restaurants aren’t driving COVID-19 spread | Chicago’s security plan for Election Day unrest | Foxx-O’Brien nearly tied — in money race," 30 Oct. 2020 Rinse then pat the chicken dry, including the cavity, with several sheets of paper towels. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Want a dish that keeps on giving? Roast a chicken.," 23 Sep. 2020 The Diamondbacks’ lineup, which had opened the year with a two-week dry spell, appeared to be awakening the past few days. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Diamondbacks lose to Giants as bats fall silent again," 29 Aug. 2020 Got to go where the people who do the dry-cleaning are. Patrick Danner, ExpressNews.com, "COVID-19 shakes up San Antonio couple’s dry-cleaning business," 13 Aug. 2020 My own canal madness was the idée fixe that to get to the bottom of the canals was to get to the bottom of Phoenix — an act best accomplished during dry-up. Longreads, "The Ancient Waterways of Phoenix, Arizona," 10 Aug. 2020 His father owned a dry-cleaning and tailoring shop; his mother was a homemaker. William Grimes, BostonGlobe.com, "Milton Glaser, Designer of Iconic New York Logo and Dylan Poster, Is Dead at 91," 28 June 2020

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

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First Known Use of dry


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dry

Adjective, Verb, and Noun

Middle English, from Old English drȳge; akin to Old High German truckan dry, Old English drēahnian to drain

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Time Traveler for dry

Time Traveler

The first known use of dry was before the 12th century

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Statistics for dry

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dry. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for dry

How to pronounce dry (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having no or very little water or liquid
: no longer wet
: having no rain or little rain



English Language Learners Definition of dry (Entry 2 of 2)

: to remove water or moisture from (something or someone) : to make (something or someone) dry
: to make plates, dishes, pots, etc., dry by rubbing them with a towel
: to become dry
\ ˈdrī How to pronounce dry (audio) \
drier; driest

Kids Definition of dry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not wet or moist Are the clothes dry?
2 : having little or no rain a dry climate
3 : not being in or under water dry land
4 : having little natural moisture a dry throat
5 : no longer liquid or sticky The paint is dry.
6 : containing no liquid a dry creek
7 : not giving milk a dry cow
8 : not producing desired results a dry spell
9 : not producing a wet substance from the body a dry cough dry sobs
10 : funny but expressed in a serious way He has a dry sense of humor.
11 : uninteresting a dry lecture
12 : not sweet dry wines

Other Words from dry

dryly or drily adverb
dryness noun


dried; drying

Kids Definition of dry (Entry 2 of 2)

: to remove or lose any moisture Help me dry the dishes.
\ ˈdrī How to pronounce dry (audio) \
drier\ ˈdrī(-​ə)r How to pronounce dry (audio) \; driest\ ˈdrī-​əst How to pronounce dry (audio) \

Medical Definition of dry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : marked by the absence or scantiness of secretions, effusions, or other forms of moisture
2 of a cough : not accompanied by the raising of mucus or phlegm


dried; drying

Medical Definition of dry (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make dry

intransitive verb

: to become dry

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More from Merriam-Webster on dry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dry

Nglish: Translation of dry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dry for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dry

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