\ˈwer-ē \
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 \ 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The official announcement was delayed as authorities needed more time to gain understanding from some local governments that remained wary of missile threats, officials said. Fox News, "Japan to scrap evacuation drills for NKorean missile threat," 22 June 2018 Although Ren spoke up in 2013 to deny the allegations, US intelligence agencies remain extremely wary of Huawei. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Why Facebook’s secret data-sharing deal with Huawei has the US concerned," 8 June 2018 For Trump, the cancellation amounts to a vanished opportunity to secure a historic foreign policy accomplishment midway through his first term as President, a prospect that enamored him even as top officials remained wary. Kevin Liptak And Jeremy Diamond, CNN, "From grin to grim: Inside the Trump-Kim summit collapse," 24 May 2018 Still, despite widespread acknowledgment of the city’s problem, critics remain wary of the way Levine’s administration jumped into construction without having resolved all the particulars. David Smiley, Alex Harris And Joey Flechas, miamiherald, "Levine is campaigning on climate change. But his sea-rise legacy is complicated. | Miami Herald," 24 May 2018 Only recently has the company been able to push out a significant number of cars per week, although investors have remained wary of Musk's often overly optimistic projections. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk tweet-announces a $78,000 performance Model 3 with all-wheel drive," 20 May 2018 The Orioles have laid out a timetable for second baseman Jonathan Schoop’s return from his oblique injury, but remain wary of letting him get too far ahead of himself. Peter Schmuck, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles notes: Tim Beckham glad to resolve long-lingering groin injury with surgery," 28 Apr. 2018 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

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

Dictionary Entries near wary





war zone



Statistics for wary

Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wary

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

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!