verb (1)
\ ˈprī How to pronounce pry (audio) \
pried; prying

Definition of pry

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to look closely or inquisitively also : to make a nosy or presumptuous inquiry


verb (2)
pried; prying

Definition of pry (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to raise, move, or pull apart with a lever : prize
2 : to extract, detach, or open with difficulty pried the secret out of my sister



Definition of pry (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a tool for prying
2 : leverage

Examples of pry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Oddly, the best chance of the half went to the Socceroos, but one gets the sense that France has the talent to sort this out an pry open the defense as Australia tires in the second half. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "France Passes First World Cup Test. So Does V.A.R.," 17 June 2018 The video showed one person carrying a large set of bolt cutters, another carrying a pry bar and another person carrying an AR-15 or AK-47 type rifle. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Madison teens charged with stealing 20-30 firearms from Oconomowoc gun store," 9 May 2018 Banks told police that someone had fired a gun during the fight and that his pregnant sister had been hit with sticks and a pry bar. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Prosecutor won't seek death penalty in case of 2 men charged with murder of 1-year-old," 17 Apr. 2018 An officer observed pry marks on the east entry door of the building. Jesse Wright,, "Elmhurst police blotter: Locker theft, car burglaries reported at XSport Fitness," 13 Apr. 2018 Federal authorities began investigating the ring in late 2016 and determined that several of the burglaries shared similar characteristics — such as the use of pry bars and sledgehammers. Michael Williams,, "Authorities arrest 4, seek 1 in Central Florida gun-theft ring," 30 Mar. 2018 Our winter has been characterized by a number of freeze-and-thaw cycles that have acted like a pry bar on the cracks in our streets. Robert King, Indianapolis Star, "The hole in the bridge and other pothole adventures in Indianapolis," 1 Mar. 2018 Sealed in a compact and lightweight bucket, this four-person kit contains all the essentials needed for a safe evacuation from a house, including a gas and water shut-off tool in case of flooding, a 15’’ pry bar, and dust masks. Sunset, "6 Best Kits for Disaster Preparedness," 22 Jan. 2018 The employee then struck the smaller dog with the plastic handle of the pry bar. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Utility worker kills pug with a pry bar. Now dog’s owner wants ‘justice for my little man’ | Miami Herald," 22 Feb. 2018

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

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

circa 1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pry

Verb (1)

Middle English prien

Verb (2)

probably back-formation from prize entry 5

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pry

Dictionary Entries near pry








Statistics for pry

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pry

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pry


\ ˈprī How to pronounce pry (audio) \
pried; prying

Kids Definition of pry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to raise or open with a lever
2 : to get at with great difficulty I couldn't pry the secret out of him.


pried; prying

Kids Definition of pry (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be nosy about something I don't mean to pry, but who is that girl I saw you with?

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pry

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pry

Spanish Central: Translation of pry

Nglish: Translation of pry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pry for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pry

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


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

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!