wary

adjective
\ 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

Other Words from wary

warily \ ˈwer-​ə-​lē How to pronounce wary (audio) \ adverb
wariness \ ˈwer-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce wary (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 But sellers should be wary of cash offers, Ulrich said, because investors are often looking for deals and may be inclined to take advantage of homeowners. Connor Sanders, The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Nov. 2021 Randol said community association boards tend to be wary of legislation that may impede their ability to self-govern. Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2021 That contributes to a steady stream of new infections, which provide the virus new opportunities to mutate, and public health experts have been wary of new variants that could escape vaccine-protection. Alice Park, Time, 26 Nov. 2021 Anirudh Rastogi, founder of tech law firm Ikigaw Law, told CNN Business that the government is wary of cryptocurrency because it can be used for money laundering and evasion of taxes. Diksha Madhok, CNN, 24 Nov. 2021 Vendors are encouraged to always be wary of scams and to independently confirm event information prior to making a payment. Michelle Mullins, chicagotribune.com, 23 Nov. 2021 However, jobseekers need to be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information from job applicants. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, 22 Nov. 2021 There is a particular day to be wary of, though: December 4. Elizabeth Gulino, refinery29.com, 22 Nov. 2021 But many experts are wary of using either as a way to protect savings. John Detrixhe, Quartz, 19 Nov. 2021

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

Buying Guide

Our team at The Usage has selected the best DIY security camera systems of 2021.

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

Dictionary Entries Near wary

warworn

wary

war zone

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wary

Last Updated

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wary. Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for wary

wary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of wary

: not having or showing complete trust in someone or something that could be dangerous or cause trouble

wary

adjective
\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on wary

Nglish: Translation of wary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wary for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!