wor·​ry | \ ˈwər-ē , ˈwə-rē\
worried; worrying

Definition of worry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 dialectal British : choke, strangle
2a : 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
3a : to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment : torment
b : to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort
4 : to afflict with mental distress or agitation : make anxious

intransitive verb

1 dialectal British : strangle, choke
2 : to move, proceed, or progress by unceasing or difficult effort : struggle
3 : to feel or experience concern or anxiety : fret worrying about his health


plural worries

Definition of worry (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : 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

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Other Words from worry


worrier \ ˈwər-​ē-​ər , ˈwə-​rē-​ \ noun
worryingly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for worry


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


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


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.


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Brittaney used to worry that her father would die from the stress of Landon’s addiction. Claire Galofaro, The Seattle Times, "After the overdose: A family’s journey into grief and guilt," 28 Jan. 2019 For those who are upset about the sculpture loosing its prime location, no need to worry. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Tourist magnet ‘I Amsterdam’ sign has been removed," 6 Dec. 2018 So many things can weigh on a young woman’s mind: dicey career prospects, rising rents, global warming, the current political situation—does anyone really want to worry about ovarian reserve? Kim Brooks, Harper's BAZAAR, "The New Frontier of Fertility Tests—for Young Women," 1 Nov. 2018 If there's nothing to worry about and nothing to hide, why not have that process? Fox News, "Kavanaugh: I never sexually assaulted anyone," 24 Sep. 2018 But perhaps collateral damage is not what we should be worried about. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Forget movie villains—it’s the “good” superheroes that are the most violent," 9 Nov. 2018 Skeptics worry that too many developers would choose to pay fees rather than include low-income units in desirable areas. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Seattle City Council starts debate on upzones; here’s how neighborhoods across the city would be affected," 8 Jan. 2019 Still worried about who holds your spare key (or just feeling creeped out about this whole situation)? Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "The LAPD Has Caught The Man Who Posed As A Realtor To Rob Celeb Homes," 4 Jan. 2019 Understandably, Japanese stakeholders also worry because the French state owns a sizable stake in Renault, and indirectly in Nissan. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Carlos Ghosn, a Victim of Old Japan," 21 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The figures chimed with worries that slowing global growth and fickle trade relations with the U.S. have begun to bite in the world’s number two economy. David Hodari, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Rise, Lifted by Energy, Tech Sectors," 15 Jan. 2019 When every cruiser and destroyer is controlling one or two unmanned combatants—each of which is feeding it vital information and presents a threat—the enemy’s worries increase dramatically. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What We Know About the U.S. Navy's Drone Fleet of the Future," 15 Jan. 2019 Both those worries still seem justified—hell, a pro Counter-Strike player was caught cheating during a tournament this year. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive goes free-to-play, adds a battle royale mode called Danger Zone," 6 Dec. 2018 But reports last night reveal that his orange hair is turning grey with worry that Don Jr. will be charged with this non-crime. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “Fake, Fake Disgusting News”," 5 Aug. 2018 There have been worries for years about potential national security concerns posed by Huawei as well. Emily Stewart, Vox, "The US government’s ongoing battle with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, explained," 11 Dec. 2018 Even more frightening was the worry that something might go wrong. Allison Berres, Good Housekeeping, "Breast-Reduction Surgery Made Me Feel More Sensual, Youthful, and Confident," 9 Nov. 2018 But there were worries, especially in Tokyo and Seoul, which both have huge U.S. military presences, about Trump agreeing to halt U.S. military exercises with South Korea, which the North has long claimed were invasion preparations. BostonGlobe.com, "With summit over, Mike Pompeo makes visits to Asian allies," 13 June 2018 Amid this good news, the worry is that the labor market is a lagging economic indicator. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Jobs for the Forgotten Man," 4 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'worry.' 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 worry


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


1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for worry


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

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Dictionary Entries near worry





worry at

worry beads


Statistics for worry

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for worry

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

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More Definitions for worry



English Language Learners Definition of worry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen
: to make (someone) anxious or upset : to cause (someone) to worry



English Language Learners Definition of worry (Entry 2 of 2)

: a feeling of concern about something bad that might happen : the state or condition of worrying about something
: a problem or concern : something that causes you to be worried


wor·​ry | \ ˈwər-ē \
worried; worrying

Kids Definition of worry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to feel or express great concern I worry about Grandma's health.
2 : to make anxious or upset The child's illness worried his parents.
3 : to shake and tear with the teeth The puppy was worrying an old shoe.

Other Words from worry

worrier \ -​ē-​ər \ noun


plural worries

Kids Definition of worry (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : concern about something that might happen : anxiety There was no playfulness … just a sense … of worry.— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars
2 : a cause of great concern Her poor grades are a worry to her parents.

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More from Merriam-Webster on worry

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with worry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for worry

Spanish Central: Translation of worry

Nglish: Translation of worry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of worry for Arabic Speakers

Comments on worry

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esteemed in general opinion

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