\ˈrī \
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 \; wryest\ˈrī-​əst \

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 \ adverb
wryness noun

Examples of wry in a Sentence


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: Adjective

Amid this wry look at the sandwich generation, Pearson adds a dose of medical advice about hormone replacement therapy. Patty Rhule, USA TODAY, "'How Hard Can It Be?' Just ask Kate, who's turning 50 in hilarious, timely new novel," 4 June 2018 Allegri could have afforded himself a wry smile on Wednesday after comprehensively beating AC Milan 4-0. Daniella Matar, chicagotribune.com, "As Juventus win titles, Allegri future remains in doubt," 10 May 2018 Inhabiting the role of an icon of Native American resistance is no small feat, but Greyeyes, a Canadian actor of Plains Cree descent, draws you in with his wry wit and quiet gravity. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Jessica Chastain plays the artist who painted Sitting Bull in the inert history lesson 'Woman Walks Ahead'," 28 June 2018 Five speakers all described Matt the same way: Loyal, enthusiastic, with a wry sense of humor. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Daugherty's Morning Line: Do you really want your players in the MLB All-Star Game?," 9 July 2018 The scene has a level of wry, subtle wit that, alas, writer-director Shana Feste does not manage to sustain in Boundaries, a road movie and shaggy dog story (full of shaggy dogs) with sharp detours but an inevitable destination. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'Boundaries' reduces Farmiga to Plummer's helper.," 4 July 2018 When combined with his deadpan delivery and wry sense of humor, each obstacle to overcome or hoop to jump through takes on a life of its own. Alexis Burling, SFChronicle.com, "‘I Will Be Complete,’ by Glen David Gold," 21 June 2018 His voice is detached and wry, not unlike a character from a story by Samuel Beckett. The Economist, "A startling debut novel from a South African poet," 14 June 2018 More on Tony and Sophia: Vivacious, outgoing and in charge, Sophia, 89, was a great complement to Tony's wry, man-of-few-words personality. Georgea Kovanis, Detroit Free Press, "After 71 years together, death has separated a Macomb Township couple," 4 June 2018

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

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

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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 \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wry

Spanish Central: Translation of wry

Nglish: Translation of wry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wry for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wry

What made you want to look up wry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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