\ˈlir-ē \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of leery 

: suspicious, wary often used with of leery of strangersShe seemed a little leery of the proposal.

Examples of leery in a Sentence

They were leery of their neighbors.

Recent Examples on the Web

Kightlinger said the biggest hangup was that most Central Valley Project contractors remained leery of the costs, even if Metropolitan was willing to pay them upfront. Ryan Sabalow And Dale Kasler, sacbee, "Southern California water agency backs off plan to finance both Delta tunnels," 3 Apr. 2018 Kornhaber: Some people might be leery of using classical terms to describe pop, as it might be seen as a confirming the thought that one is a higher art form than the other. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Classical Music Can Learn From Kanye West," 2 July 2018 For decades, Rwandans have been leery of dogs, even viewing them as dangerous, partly because of their role as aggressive security animals and reputation as rabid, unpredictable strays. Yana Paskova, National Geographic, "Learning to Love Dogs in Kigali," 29 June 2018 Successive presidents, leery of taking financial risks that could trigger a repeat of the 1994 peso collapse, have delivered economic growth that’s dismal by developing-nation standards and left behind a trail of graft allegations and soaring crime. Eric Martin, Bloomberg.com, "Mexico’s Populist Tide Pushes AMLO Toward a Blowout Victory," 27 June 2018 Sophia King, 4th, who sponsored the plan to change Balbo to honor Wells-Barnett, said last week that the upcoming city elections could be making officials leery of taking up the contentious issue. John Byrne, chicagotribune.com, "Aldermen's proposal would honor Ida B. Wells by renaming Congress Parkway, not Balbo Drive," 26 June 2018 City staff was also leery of the plan, recommending the plan commission deny it. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Franklin mayor blasts addition of senior housing to Ballpark Commons: 'It's the wrong facility in the wrong part of town'," 22 June 2018 Congressional Republicans are rightfully leery given their experiences on ObamaCare, taxes and other policy initiatives. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "GOP repeats ObamaCare mistakes on immigration," 18 June 2018 And one said its perception as a haven for criminal activity makes some leery of responding. Dale Kasler, Anita Chabria And Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "'Nobody had to die.' Neighbors say Tehama sheriff ignored year of terror before shootings | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leery.' 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 leery

1718, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about leery

Dictionary Entries near leery








Statistics for leery

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for leery

The first known use of leery was in 1718

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for leery



English Language Learners Definition of leery

: feeling or showing a lack of trust in someone or something



Kids Definition of leery

: suspicious sense 2, wary … he was really a little leery of venturing out into New York City.— George Selden, The Cricket in Times Square

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on leery

See words that rhyme with leery

Spanish Central: Translation of leery

Nglish: Translation of leery for Spanish Speakers

Comments on leery

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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