worry

1 of 2

verb

wor·​ry ˈwər-ē How to pronounce worry (audio)
ˈwə-rē
worried; worrying

transitive verb

1
: to afflict with mental distress or agitation : make anxious
2
a
: to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat
b
: to shake or pull at with the teeth
a terrier worrying a rat
c
: to touch or disturb something repeatedly
d
: to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling
3
a
: to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment : torment
b
: to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort
4
dialectal British : choke, strangle

intransitive verb

1
: to feel or experience concern or anxiety : fret
worrying about his health
2
: to move, proceed, or progress by unceasing or difficult effort : struggle
3
dialectal British : strangle, choke
worrier
ˈwər-ē-ər How to pronounce worry (audio)
ˈwə-rē-
noun

worry

2 of 2

noun

plural worries
1
a
: mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated : anxiety
b
: an instance or occurrence of such distress or agitation
2
: a cause of worry : trouble, difficulty
Choose the Right Synonym for worry

Verb

worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts.

worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation.

pursued a policy of worrying the enemy

annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks.

you're doing that just to annoy me

harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power.

harassed on all sides by creditors

harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment.

the strikers had been harried by thugs

plague implies a painful and persistent affliction.

plagued all her life by poverty

pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks.

constantly pestered with trivial complaints

tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath.

children teased the dog

Noun

care, concern, solicitude, anxiety, worry mean a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this.

care implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension.

a face worn by years of care

concern implies a troubled state of mind because of personal interest, relation, or affection.

crimes caused concern in the neighborhood

solicitude implies great concern and connotes either thoughtful or hovering attentiveness toward another.

acted with typical maternal solicitude

anxiety stresses anguished uncertainty or fear of misfortune or failure.

plagued by anxiety and self-doubt

worry suggests fretting over matters that may or may not be real cause for anxiety.

financial worries

Examples of worry in a Sentence

Verb We didn't want you to worry. Don't worry. You'll be fine. Don't make your parents worry. When they didn't call after two hours, we began to worry. They were fine. We needn't have worried. His poor health worries me. It doesn't seem to worry him that rain is in the forecast. We didn't tell you about the accident because we didn't want to worry you. Noun She finally ended months of worry over her credit card debt when she finished paying off her bill. His high blood pressure is cause for worry. Our greatest worry is that she'll get lost. His only worry right now is getting to the airport on time. His mother's health is a constant worry. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The last time the Metroplex had to worry about a freeze was back in January. David Montesino, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 20 Feb. 2024 Millennials, for example, are most likely to feel anxious after ghosting and worried that ghosting will negatively impact future opportunities. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune Europe, 19 Feb. 2024 But parents and caregivers won’t have to worry about the bottle shattering when it inevitably gets dropped or thrown. Laura Lu, Ms, Parents, 19 Feb. 2024 Since 1982, Sallie Reeves and her husband have lived atop a serene Rancho Palos Verdes canyon, overlooking the sparkling Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island, with little reason to worry about the slow-moving landslide complex beneath their feet. Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 2024 If there’s a neighboring empire with enough troops to give you a bloody nose, worry about them first. Barry Collins, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024 At the same time, Mr. Biden needs cooperation from the auto industry and political support from the unionized auto workers who backed him in 2020 but now worry that an abrupt transition to electric vehicles would cost jobs. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 In the early morning hours of May 1, 1940, as a thick fog blanketing Lake Superior transformed into a ferocious storm, the crew of the S.S. Arlington started to worry. Ellen Wexler, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Feb. 2024 That was General Douglas MacArthur in June 1950, then overseeing occupied Japan and worrying in a top-secret memo to Washington about the prospect that the Communists in China might seek to vanquish their Nationalist enemies once and for all. Andrew S. Erickson, Foreign Affairs, 16 Feb. 2024
Noun
Get in the practice of asking your friend thoughtful questions as well as validating her frustration, anger and worry. Meghan Leahy, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2024 But legal recreational marijuana is stirring new worries. Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 In the particular case above, the real issue was the parent's worries about the son-in-law interfering in the family business. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Its stock markets have been among the world’s worst recently due to worries about a sluggish economic recovery and troubles in the property sector. Stan Choe, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 Although public concern about immigrants taking away jobs are muted these days by an economy with record-low unemployment, Republicans have connected border chaos with public worries about crime. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 City zoning commissioners, sympathizing with their worries, recommended the city council reject the rezoning plea in December. Jaime Moore-Carrillo, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 13 Feb. 2024 But worries about commercial real estate also played a role. Yuri Kageyama, Quartz, 13 Feb. 2024 But worries remain high about a problem that’s affecting banks worldwide: weakness in commercial real estate. Stan Choe, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'worry.' 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

Verb

Middle English worien, from Old English wyrgan; akin to Old High German wurgen to strangle, Lithuanian veržti to constrict

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 4

Noun

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near worry

Cite this Entry

“Worry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worry. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

worry

1 of 2 verb
wor·​ry ˈwər-ē How to pronounce worry (audio)
ˈwə-rē
worried; worrying
1
: to shake and tear or mangle with the teeth
a puppy worrying an old shoe
2
: to make anxious or upset
his absence worried his friends
3
: to feel or express great concern : fret
worrying about her health
worrier noun

worry

2 of 2 noun
plural worries
1
2
: a cause of anxiety : trouble

More from Merriam-Webster on worry

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