\ 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 Suzanne relied on food stamps and Section 8 housing to make it in the early days, struggling to find a landlord who was not wary of another poor Black mom from Chicago. Maya Rao, Star Tribune, "Interracial Twin Cities couple undertake their own private reckoning with race in America," 23 Oct. 2020 Bank of England officials have asked lenders to assess the impact of negative interest rates, a policy bankers are wary of. Simon Clark, WSJ, "Barclays Swings to Profit but Sees Persistent Headwinds," 23 Oct. 2020 And Zhao was wary of paying the 20 to 30 percent commissions charged at the time by popular food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "The new trends in San Antonio’s restaurant dining scene as its been impacted by coronavirus pandemic," 22 Oct. 2020 Yet while Trump may be hoping for a similar surprise from within his administration now, senior FBI officials are wary of repeating moves that were sharply criticized as unfair and inappropriate. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump weighs firing FBI director after election as frustration with Wray, Barr grows," 22 Oct. 2020 Particularly in the use of A.I. for human systems, Siebel is wary of over-dependence on machine learning. Mckenna Moore, Fortune, "This A.I. CEO says if governments don’t regulate technology, we will live in a ‘very scary place’," 20 Oct. 2020 But Chinese government economists are wary of providing direct payments to consumers. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "With Covid-19 Under Control, China’s Economy Surges Ahead," 18 Oct. 2020 But there is plenty of reason to be wary of initial claims of success. John Horgan, Scientific American, "Has the Drug-Based Approach to Mental Illness Failed?," 17 Oct. 2020 Brown is wary of two Kansas stars who have not quite gotten on track this season. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Kansas-West Virginia live stream (10/17): How to watch college football online, TV, time," 17 Oct. 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

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

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

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