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 Exercising the caution of an archaeologist on a dig, Biondo and his team used small pry bars and light hammers to uncover design details long concealed. Arielle Dollinger, House Beautiful, 3 June 2021 Use a small pry bar with a sharp, wide blade, such as the Restorer’s Cat’s Paw ($19.90 for the eight-inch version at Lee Valley). Washington Post, 10 May 2021 When the Magna earthquake shook the Salt Lake Valley last March, tiles and bricks fell out of the ceiling at West Lake STEM Junior High with such force that the doors at one entryway were blocked and wouldn’t open without a pry bar. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Mar. 2021 Harvest those carefully using a strong knife or small pry bar. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 9 Mar. 2021 Then use a pry bar to pull off any interior or exterior trim. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, 28 Feb. 2021 On June 2, 2019, Walnut Creek 911 received several calls about Hall threatening family members and walking around the neighborhood with a long metal pry bar, causing a commotion. Christina Maxouris, CNN, 22 Sep. 2020 Median home pries in the area were up 8% last month from January 2019 levels. Steve Brown, Dallas News, 12 Feb. 2020 Working with a pry bar, officials got one hand out. Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2020 See More

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.

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

Learn More About pry

Time Traveler for pry

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Pry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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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?

More from Merriam-Webster on pry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pry

Nglish: Translation of pry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pry for Arabic Speakers


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