weary

1 of 2

adjective

wea·​ry ˈwir-ē How to pronounce weary (audio)
wearier; weariest
1
: exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness
2
: expressing or characteristic of weariness
a weary sign
3
: having one's patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted
used with of
soon grew weary of waiting
4
wearily adverb
weariness noun

weary

2 of 2

verb

wearied; wearying

intransitive verb

: to become weary

transitive verb

: to make weary

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Sick and Tired: The Literal and Figurative Meanings of Lassitude

Lassitude and weariness make an interesting pair. As with many nearly synonymous pairs of words in English, one is derived from Latin and the other from Old English. Even though they both mean “the condition of being tired,” they are used in different ways. Following a common pattern, the Latinate word tends to be used in technical, medical, and formal writing, and the Old English-derived word is used when referring to physical, emotional, and spiritual qualities.

Lassitude comes from the Latin word lassus, meaning “weary.” Our English spelling comes from the French word that developed directly from Latin, borrowed in the 15th century. In French, the word las (masculine) or lasse (feminine) means “weary” or “tired,” and the idiom être las de means “to be sick and tired of.” This led to another English word with the same root: alas, a word that expresses sadness or disappointment, but conveys some measure of fatigue and resignation as well.

Though it sometimes is just a fancy word for fatigue in medical contexts, lassitude is also used in ways that are metaphorical and closer in meaning to “negligence”:

Congress was being choked by pettiness and lassitude.

The case was delayed because of sheer lassitude.

The failure was the result of moral lassitude.

Choose the Right Synonym for weary

tire, weary, fatigue, exhaust, jade mean to make or become unable or unwilling to continue.

tire implies a draining of one's strength or patience.

the long ride tired us out

weary stresses tiring until one is unable to endure more of the same thing.

wearied of the constant arguing

fatigue suggests great lassitude from excessive strain or undue effort.

fatigued by the day's chores

exhaust implies complete draining of strength by hard exertion.

shoveling snow exhausted him

jade suggests the loss of all freshness and eagerness.

appetites jaded by overindulgence

Examples of weary in a Sentence

Adjective I would remember the potential for return, all things circling as they do, into something like fullness, small moments of completion that weave together, like Penelope's cloth, doing and undoing themselves by turns, an unfinished pattern that guides a weary traveler home … Paul Sorrell, Parabola, May 2000
But for the wilted weeds that managed to jut forth in wiry clumps where the mortar was cracked and washed away, the viaduct wall was barren of everything except the affirmation of a weary industrial city's prolonged and triumphant struggle to monumentalize its ugliness. Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997
Every day for a week Ellsworth showed up to see Clarence and every day Miss Eunice and Mr. George Edward would exchange weary glances and shrugs … Randall Kenan, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, 1992
I need to rest my weary eyes. The miners were weary after a long shift. She was weary from years of housework. Verb What wearies me about Dickens, however, is his excessive use of words. Will Manley, Booklist, 1 Nov. 2006
I doubted what Indonesia now had to offer and wearied of being new all over again. Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father, (1995) 2004
Does it weary me to find some women of the next generation reinventing the wheel when it comes to planning their lives and dreaming of their romantic futures? Margo Jefferson, New York Times Book Review, 15 Apr. 2001
The work wearies me sometimes. these constant complaints are really wearying me
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
An early-morning homeless encampment sweep People streamed down San Diego’s 17th Street in a weary, early morning parade, past the neon-green signs warning that the camp was about to be removed. Calmatters, The Mercury News, 12 Apr. 2024 In a one-minute monologue, Karla laces into the emptiness of certain transactional gay relationships, her perspective that of a weary veteran of one too many conditional trysts. Louis Lucero Ii, New York Times, 11 Apr. 2024 Situated between New York and New Jersey, the historic site was often the first piece of dry land weary travelers touched after a long journey across the Atlantic. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Apr. 2024 State Police Commissioner Joseph A. Childs gave the estimates as weary rescue workers moved steadily ahead, digging through the debris and smashed homes in search of more victims. Jerome Hansen, Jack Schermerhorn, Ralph Nelson and Ken McCormick, Detroit Free Press, 6 Apr. 2024 Photo: Courtesy of Thyme Not content with having established a beloved countryside getaways for weary Londoners, a few years back, Hibbert—in collaboration with her daughter, Milly, who now works as the property’s general manager—quietly launched her very own homewares brand: Bertioli. Liam Hess, Vogue, 5 Apr. 2024 In a few days, thousands of weary travelers will get to taste what all the brew-haha is all about when Ampersand’s $2 million self-service cafe inside Terminal C at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport debuts. Ella Gonzales, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 29 Mar. 2024 But this comes from many weary hours of work and change. Anna Jankowska, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 An agreement emerged just as the deadline arrived, allowing weary lawmakers to finally vote. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2024
Verb
Nolan, as ever, twists national defense into wearying social complexity. Armond White, National Review, 5 Jan. 2024 Regrettably, lazy jokes, one too many full-frontals and wearying hour-long episodes make for a confounding show. Aramide Tinubu, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 There was a time, not so long ago, when those wearied and horrified by the presidency of Donald J. Trump could almost convince themselves that the man was gone. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, 16 Jan. 2024 That success quieted, without quite silencing, critics who had lately been complaining about the wearying length of Coltrane’s solo improvisations. Jeff MacGregor, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Jan. 2024 But so much wide-eyed optimism becomes wearying, and the wistful memories of Willy’s mother, while beautifully visualized in photo flipbook style, are more sentimental than affecting. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Dec. 2023 But getting from conception to reality was a frustrating and wearying campaign. Melissa Gomez, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2023 The men’s effort to continue lobbying for their innocence while reentering the workforce and reconnecting with their families and their city, Christopher Turner admits, is wearying. Joe Heim, Washington Post, 6 July 2023 But back then, my life reflected a culture that beats women down until they are wearied, frayed. Amanda Montei, ELLE, 6 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'weary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Verb

Middle English wery, from Old English wērig; akin to Old High German wuorag intoxicated and perhaps to Greek aōros sleep

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of weary was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near weary

Cite this Entry

“Weary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weary. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

weary

1 of 2 adjective
wea·​ry ˈwi(ə)r-ē How to pronounce weary (audio)
wearier; weariest
1
: worn out in strength, energy, or freshness
2
: showing or marked by weariness
3
: having one's patience, interest, or pleasure exhausted
weary of their attacks
4
wearily adverb
weariness noun

weary

2 of 2 verb
wearied; wearying
: to become or make weary

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