\ 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

Frank Heppner, one of the German scientists who discovered the potential benefit of Stelara, said drug companies are wary of testing existing drugs in elderly people who are at higher risk of serious side effects. Christopher Rowland, Washington Post, "Alzheimer’s research is getting a reboot at small companies focused on the immune system," 5 July 2019 Taken together, these inclusions compel investors who track indices to allocate billions of dollars to China, even if some are wary of it. The Economist, "Foreign financiers look past the trade war and ramp up in China," 4 July 2019 According to the memo, lenders were wary of investing in a development slated to include repurposed shipping containers. Emily Deruy, The Mercury News, "San Jose: Controversial affordable housing development stalls," 1 July 2019 But there are party donors and influencers among them, who tend to be wary of the Party’s left and warm to candidates like Amy Klobuchar—another one of the room’s favorites—who have explicitly framed themselves as centrists. Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, "Moderate Democrats’ Surprising Embrace of Elizabeth Warren at the Democratic Debate," 27 June 2019 Hingham police are asking the community to be wary of phone calls from people claiming to be from the Social Security Administration after a 67-year-old woman was pressured by a scammer into buying gift cards worth more than $9,000. Cynthia Fernandez, BostonGlobe.com, "Elderly Hingham woman scammed out of $9,000," 25 June 2019 The Israeli leader appears to be wary of being seen as pushing the U.S. into a new Middle Eastern military conflict. Aron Heller, chicagotribune.com, "National Security Adviser John Bolton warns Iran not to mistake U.S. “prudence” for weakness," 23 June 2019 Big tech is wary of Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition known for doling out fines. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "To Diversity the Financial Industry, Break the Wheel: Broadsheet," 21 June 2019 Efforts to deepen ties with Daimler have run into resistance from some board members who are wary of new partnerships, the people said. Oliver Sachgau, Bloomberg.com, "BMW CEO Future in Doubt as Tensions Erupt on Tackling Shift," 21 May 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near wary





war zone



Statistics for wary

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wary

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

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More Definitions for wary



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

Comments on wary

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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