\ 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 wryer (audio) \; wryest\ ˈrī-​əst How to pronounce wryest (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 wryly (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: Adjective The pieces of the puzzle don't entirely lock into place, and Black Bear occasionally feels a touch too pleased with its own cleverness, but its wry commentary on the uncomfortable collision of art and life remains engrossing. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Black Bear': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 Chris and Joey had the sense of fun, Justin has that smile, and J.C. and Lance had very wry humor about it all. Ruth Kinane, EW.com, "Inside the making of NSYNC's iconic 'Bye Bye Bye' music video," 11 Jan. 2020 The book alternates between short, conversational discussions of literary techniques and devices and wry, often bemused anecdotes about Palahniuk’s experiences on the literary circuit. oregonlive, "Chuck Palahniuk plans Portland book signing for his new memoir-slash-writing workshop," 3 Jan. 2020 These are just three of the architectural elements listed as among the worst design offenses on writer Kate Wagner’s McMansion Hell, the cult-favorite blog known for wry takedowns of those titular suburban behemoths. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "This Zen Family Home Was Once a Soulless McMansion," 30 Dec. 2019 Director Nathan Motta layered cheeky, meta detail throughout his wry, wonderful show to link Chekhov’s text to Posner’s contemporary version: One old guy even made himself a White Russian. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Power pairs, such as ‘Rastus and Hattie’ and ‘Tiny Houses,’ were the talk of the stage this season: Year in Review 2019," 28 Dec. 2019 There’s something intoxicating about Lampedusa’s wry prince and his decaying palaces. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Oldest Money: Inside Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Sicilian Palazzo," 10 Dec. 2019 Art like Chris Farren’s wry pop rock may help ensure that the quest to feel better doesn’t result in too much bot talk. The Atlantic, "The 18 Best Albums of 2019," 10 Dec. 2019 Sedaris has entertained readers with his wry tone and his often larger-than-life accounts in nine books, and the 61-year-old writer shows no signs of stopping. Matthew Wilson, USA TODAY, "5 books to throw in your carry-on or beach bag this summer," 26 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

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 17 Feb. 2020.

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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

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

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