\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web These days, rising geopolitical tensions have made Chinese companies wary of Wall Street. Sherisse Pham, CNN, "Ant Group IPO gets the green light from regulators for its blockbuster listing," 22 Oct. 2020 Many people distrust vaccines in general, and political pressure on the FDA to rapidly approve a COVID-19 vaccine makes Americans wary. al, "'Arguably murderous’: Millions of Americans would have to die for herd immunity," 21 Oct. 2020 The forecast is a fresh blow to American malls already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended the economy, shifted spending habits and made people wary of crowded places. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Fewer U.S. shoppers say they’re going to the mall this holiday season," 15 Oct. 2020 The court fight has had the effect of making some voters wary of mail-in voting, said the Linn County auditor, Joel Miller, one of the officials sued by Trump’s re-election committee. Jeffrey Taylor, Bloomberg.com, "Trump Suit Targets Mail-In Ballots in State He Needs to Win," 14 Oct. 2020 Equity prices are expensive, making some pension and endowment executives wary of dramatic moves in the market. Gregory Zuckerman And Logan Moore, WSJ, "America’s Pensions Have Been Shunning Stocks at Their Own Peril," 24 Sep. 2020 Furthermore, some voting-tech vendors have spotty track records, making election officials wary of moving too quickly. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Why online voting will have to wait," 21 Sep. 2020 Trump’s preference for reopening and making some voters wary of Biden bringing back the lockdowns. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Trump playing catch-up as campaign reaches traditional Labor Day kickoff," 7 Sep. 2020 Bad behavior is to blame With the world’s highest COVID-19 count, the U.S. has made many countries wary of its travelers. Johanna Read, National Geographic, "Borders are closing to Americans. Here’s where you can still go," 3 Aug. 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.

See More

First Known Use of wary

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wary

ware entry 1 + -y entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wary

Time Traveler for wary

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for wary

Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wary. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!