\ ˈwer-ē \
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 \ adverb
wariness \ˈwer-ē-nəs \ 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

But other Democratic incumbents need to be wary as well, including Senator Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat who is in a difficult re-election fight with Rick Scott, the Republican governor. Carl Hulse, New York Times, "‘It’s a Terrible Vote’: Red-State Democrats Face an Agonizing Supreme Court Choice," 7 July 2018 Those making England clear favourites for the game in Samara should be wary, for this is a Sweden team that fears nobody. SI.com, "Warning Signs: How Sweden's Humble History Makers Survived and Thrived in the Post-Zlatan Era," 6 July 2018 Still, firefighters are wary; San Diego International Airport has only received 3.32 inches of rain since October 1 — a figure that’s nearly 7 inches below average. Alex Riggins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego fire department to increase staffing in anticipation of weekend heatwave," 5 July 2018 But the biggest banks, without whom nothing substantial is financed in Canada, have been wary. The Economist, "Canada’s cannabis firms plot world domination," 5 July 2018 Be wary if a seller insists on using a particular online escrow company. Carroll Lachnit, Edmunds, USA TODAY, "Edmunds: Tips on how to avoid fraud when buying a car online," 22 June 2018 If there is no address or phone number on the materials about the award, be wary. Veronica Craker, idahostatesman, "Your business might deserve an honor, but be wary of ‘vanity awards’ seeking money," 16 June 2018 China would be wary if the suspension of military exercises led to some kind of larger rapprochement between the U.S. and North Korea, Haenle said. Gillian Wong And Christopher Bodeen, Fox News, "After summit, China likely to remind N. Korea of close ties," 13 June 2018 And Asian and European banks are wary because U.S. regulators have levied billions of dollars in fines in recent years and threatened transgressors with a cutoff from the far more lucrative American market. NBC News, "Obama-era license aimed to let Iran convert money in dollars," 6 June 2018

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

16 Sep 2018

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 \
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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