adjective \ ˈwer-ē \
|Updated on: 8 Jul 2018

Definition of wary

warier; wariest
: marked by keen caution, cunning, and watchfulness especially in detecting and escaping danger


play \ˈwer-ə-lē\ adverb


play \ˈwer-ē-nəs\ noun

Examples of wary in a Sentence

  1. Great critics are sometimes wary of great authors. Eliot and Pound usually sidled past Shakespeare. —William LoganNew York Times Book Review11 Feb. 2001
  2. Though sycamore wood was much used, pioneers were wary of the tree's fuzzy leaves, which they believed brought allergies and even consumption. —Arthur PlotnikThe Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town2000
  3. 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 LodgeThe Art of Fiction1992
  4. The store owner kept a wary eye on him.

  5. Investors are increasingly wary about putting money into stocks.

Recent Examples of wary from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of wary

Synonym Discussion of 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

WARY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of wary for English Language Learners

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

WARY Defined for Kids


adjective \ ˈwer-ē \

Definition of wary for Students

warier; wariest
: very cautious
  • The baker's worries about ogres and bandits I thought exaggerated … However, I was wary of strangers.
  • —Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted


\ˈwer-ə-lē-\ adverb


\ˈwer-ē-nəs\ noun

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to beat or defeat soundly

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