wor·​ry | \ ˈwər-ē How to pronounce worry (audio) , 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

Other Words from worry


worrier \ ˈwər-​ē-​ər How to pronounce worry (audio) , ˈwə-​rē-​ \ noun

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

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 Ukrainian side also has to worry about supplies, even within its own borders, as railway lines have come under Russian attack. Laris Karklis, Washington Post, 17 May 2022 The sector has been a particularly heavy weight on the broader market as investors worry about high inflation and rising interest rates. Damian J. Troise, ajc, 16 May 2022 Frank Body Original Face Scrub has been created for those who worry about dull and dry skin. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 But showrunner Kristen Reidel implies that there may not be anything to worry about in regards to Bobby's future with the 118. Patrick Gomez, EW.com, 16 May 2022 That also means Clea (Charlize Theron) would not show up, as there would be no incursion to worry about. Chris Smith, BGR, 16 May 2022 Before, women had to worry only that Target or Amazon might learn of their pregnancies. Nora Mcdonald, Chron, 16 May 2022 One fear some may face is worry that a patient may come in contact with protesters. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 15 May 2022 Twitter’s board in April backed Musk’s offer to buy the company for $54.20 a share, but the stock price has tumbled nearly 25% since then to $40.72 as investors worry the deal might fall through. Nicholas Reimann, Forbes, 14 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Keep a bottle of 1500 mg Full-Spectrum CBD tincture on hand for little dabs under the tongue or usage in your favorite foods and beverages without worry of any foul odors or aftertastes. The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 While some white-knuckle over the turbulence made by billionaire Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, one University of Central Florida student is flying high without any worry. Joe Mario Pedersen, Orlando Sentinel, 4 May 2022 All that to say, palazzo pants offer all the benefits of a maxi skirt without the worry of wardrobe malfunctions or chafing (ouch). Eva Thomas, PEOPLE.com, 18 Apr. 2022 Russian commanders have rotated through Syria for years, where radios and cellphones could be used without worry of interference or tracking, noted Bendett, of the Center for Naval Analyses. Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2022 My daydreams consist of Playing music all around the world without the worry of COVID. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 9 Mar. 2022 For 30 years now, Americans have been able to fight the dangerous but not existential threat from terrorism without much worry about the shape of the world our children will live in. Elliott Abrams, National Review, 3 Mar. 2022 Weeks ago, the Beijing Olympics appeared to provide a perfect opportunity for China to display its success against COVID, hosting an international event with thousands of domestic fans that could attend without worry of getting infected. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, 17 Jan. 2022 The electronics have been waterproofed, too, so the driver can blast through shallow puddles and wet pavement without worry. Matt Jancer, Wired, 17 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Worry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worry. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for worry


wor·​ry | \ ˈwər-ē How to pronounce worry (audio) \
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on worry

Nglish: Translation of worry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of worry for Arabic Speakers


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