\ ˈrī How to pronounce wry (audio) \
wried; wrying

Definition of wry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to pull out of or as if out of proper shape : make awry


wryer\ ˈrī(-​ə)r How to pronounce wry (audio) \; wryest\ ˈrī-​əst How to pronounce wry (audio) \

Definition of wry (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : bent, twisted, or turned usually abnormally to one side a wry nose
2 : made by a deliberate distortion of the facial muscles often to express irony or mockery a wry smile
4 : cleverly and often ironically or grimly humorous a wry wit

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Other Words from wry


wryly \ ˈrī-​lē How to pronounce wry (audio) \ adverb
wryness noun

Examples of wry in a Sentence

Adjective His books are noted for their wry humor. When I asked her how she felt after winning the race, she gave me a wry smile and said, “Pretty tired.”
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That can have the effect of Trump impersonator Sarah Cooper delivering a cartoon TikTok; the humor largely comes from attaching Trump’s utterances to wry new visuals. Washington Post, "From two cartoonists, twisted takes on life with Trump," 23 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And so funny and wry too, often bringing a carrier bag full of Quality Street (a brand of British confectionery) for the crew – which, frankly, all actors should do... Clark Collis, EW.com, "Director Edgar Wright pays tribute to 'formidable, wickedly funny' Diana Rigg," 18 Sep. 2020 The juxtaposition of towering fashion models and the scenes of turmoil at their high-heeled feet reflects with wry absurdity—as if through a fun-house mirror—the gap between the fantasies and realities of late capitalism. Leslie Jamison, The Atlantic, "The Breathtaking Ingenuity of Incarcerated Artists," 7 Feb. 2021 The film is wry and observant about the movie business and all the things that haven't changed, as well as those that have. Lindsey Bahr, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Mank' is a grand contribution to Hollywood history," 6 Nov. 2020 This is pretty wry, touching on how stressful 2020 has been for so many couples and their social networks. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, "Saturday Night Live recap: Bill Burr hosts, with replacement musical guest Jack White," 11 Oct. 2020 Written with wry compassion and a behavorial scientist’s sharp eye, the book became in its way an unassumimg blockbuster and a touchstone for feminists. New York Times, "Mary Catherine Bateson Dies at 81; Anthropologist on Lives of Women," 14 Jan. 2021 Her sense of humor is intact as is her wry, unflinching approach to life. Lori Riley, courant.com, "She can’t run outside, but this brain cancer survivor from Connecticut was able to complete a virtual half marathon on the treadmill," 17 Oct. 2020 Aptly for a business long associated with the counterculture, the tutorial is a wry summary of the dark arts of marketing. The Economist, "Rolling in it Branding lessons from Rizla," 16 Jan. 2021 Jessi Klein, the head writer of Inside Amy Schumer, blends observational humor with wry narration in essays that pick apart her experiences as a woman. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "11 Audiobooks to Lighten the Mood This Dreary Winter," 15 Jan. 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wry


Middle English wrien, from Old English wrigian to turn; akin to Middle High German rigel kerchief wound around the head, Greek rhiknos shriveled, Avestan urvisyeiti he turns

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Time Traveler for wry

Time Traveler

The first known use of wry was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Wry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wry. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for wry



English Language Learners Definition of wry

: humorous in a clever and often ironic way
: showing both amusement and a feeling of being tired, annoyed, etc.


\ ˈrī How to pronounce wry (audio) \
wryer; wryest

Kids Definition of wry

1 : funny in a clever or ironic way a wry remark
2 : expressing irony a wry smile

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More from Merriam-Webster on wry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wry

Nglish: Translation of wry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wry for Arabic Speakers

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