\ 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

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, 23 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Sadiq’s wry, intelligent script doesn’t treat their relationship as some kind of revelatory, cure-all lightning bolt, but rather as a litmus test for all that this caring but confused young man has yet to learn about himself and others. Guy Lodge, Variety, 10 June 2022 The detachment in the film itself from the heavier usual themes could cut both ways in commercial terms, but there’s no doubt that this enhances Haj’s reputation as a wry observer of contemporary Middle Eastern mores. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 May 2022 The novel has the same wry tone—with Selin as a conduit for Batuman’s brilliant, funny observations—but it is characterized by a shift: Selin is ready to stop thinking about living and start doing it. Sophie Haigney, The New Republic, 23 May 2022 What elevates this far above the typical campus novel is Ms. Batuman’s wry perspective. Heller Mcalpin, WSJ, 20 May 2022 Without losing the character’s desperation, Clayton now makes Hamlet more persuasively antic and wry — more real. New York Times, 15 May 2022 The emotional needle tips away from happy-sad, wry observation and toward happy-happy, open-armed celebration. Peter C. Baker, The New Yorker, 15 May 2022 Some of our more reserved teammates revealed themselves to be quick with a pithy observation or wry remark. Robin Wadsworth, Forbes, 13 May 2022 The novel’s tone – swinging between breezy, wry, and brutally raw – can feel muddled. Erin Douglass, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About wry

Time Traveler for wry

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near wry




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wry

Cite this Entry

“Wry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wry. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for wry


\ 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

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!