\ ˈwer-ē How to pronounce wary (audio) \
warier; wariest

Definition of wary

: marked by keen caution, cunning, and watchfulness especially in detecting and escaping danger

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Other Words from wary

warily \ ˈwer-​ə-​lē How to pronounce warily (audio) \ adverb
wariness \ ˈwer-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce wariness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for wary

cautious, circumspect, wary, chary mean prudently watchful and discreet in the face of danger or risk. cautious implies the exercise of forethought usually prompted by fear of danger. a cautious driver circumspect suggests less fear and stresses the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding. circumspect in his business dealings wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in watching for danger and cunning in escaping it. keeps a wary eye on the competition chary implies a cautious reluctance to give, act, or speak freely. chary of signing papers without having read them first

Examples of wary in a Sentence

Great critics are sometimes wary of great authors. Eliot and Pound usually sidled past Shakespeare. — William Logan, New York Times Book Review, 11 Feb. 2001 Though sycamore wood was much used, pioneers were wary of the tree's fuzzy leaves, which they believed brought allergies and even consumption. — Arthur Plotnik, The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town, 2000 Modern literary novelists … wary of neat solutions and happy endings, have tended to invest their mysteries with an aura of ambiguity and to leave them unresolved. — David Lodge, The Art of Fiction, 1992 The store owner kept a wary eye on him. Investors are increasingly wary about putting money into stocks.
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Recent Examples on the Web Bad experiences have taught us to be wary of scammers. Paul Sullivan, New York Times, "How Philanthropists Are Helping During the Crisis," 27 Mar. 2020 Medicaid scams Cameron also warned those receiving Medicaid benefits to be wary of anyone asking for personal information or payment in exchange for coronavirus tests. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "New scams emerging as coronavirus crisis deepens, COVID-19 fraud task force forms," 25 Mar. 2020 Also be wary of possibly counterfeit items such as sanitizing products and personal protective equipment. Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press, "Price gouging in Michigan AG's sights after 1,600 complaints from consumers," 24 Mar. 2020 On the other are some of Trump’s top economic advisers, who have been wary of massive social upheaval and its potentially ruinous economic effects. Brian Bennett, Time, "President Trump Is Already Considering Defying Health Experts to Boost the Economy," 24 Mar. 2020 Washington should be wary of adding new political or military commitments to Taiwan. Doug Bandow, National Review, "The U.S. Should Offer Taiwan a Free-Trade Agreement," 23 Mar. 2020 Transplant patients have to be wary of anything that could jeopardize their health. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "After three years fighting cancer, ex-Rangers scout Marty Scott is hoping to find a place in the game once again," 21 Mar. 2020 Fortier, however, is wary of trying such an approach now because of the logistical problems. Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner, "Congress crisis: Pandemic threatens Capitol Hill," 18 Mar. 2020 Be wary of emails (or phone calls!) requesting account information or to verify an account, as most businesses would never call you or email you directly to ask for your security credentials. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, "How to Keep Yourself Safe From Coronavirus Scams and Fake Health Products," 16 Mar. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wary

ware entry 1 + -y entry 1

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Time Traveler for wary

Time Traveler

The first known use of wary was in the 15th century

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Statistics for wary

Last Updated

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wary. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for wary

How to pronounce wary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wary

: not having or showing complete trust in someone or something that could be dangerous or cause trouble
\ ˈwer-ē How to pronounce wary (audio) \
warier; wariest

Kids Definition of wary

: very cautious The baker's worries about ogres and bandits I thought exaggerated … However, I was wary of strangers.— Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted

Other Words from wary

warily \ ˈwer-​ə-​lē-​ \ adverb
wariness \ ˈwer-​ē-​nəs \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on wary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wary

Spanish Central: Translation of wary

Nglish: Translation of wary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wary for Arabic Speakers

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