\ 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


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

Mitchell Lichtenstein’s Teeth is regularly billed as a horror-comedy, but the humor is pretty low-key and wry compared to something like Scream or Shaun of the Dead. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "The new horror film canon (and where to stream it)," 1 Nov. 2018 The wry, environmentally friendly Icelandic eco-activist fairy tale features Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir in a dual role. Seattle Times Staff, The Seattle Times, "‘Dumbo’ and 8 other movies open March 29; our reviewers weigh in," 3 Apr. 2019 The director’s blabbermouth tendencies and wry manner make him an enjoyable M.C. Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "Review: In ‘The Devil and Father Amorth,’ a Filmmaker Gets Real," 19 Apr. 2018 His wry observation was published in the newspaper in November 2007. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "These two men compete to get one-liners in IndyStar’s ‘Let it Out’ section," 23 Apr. 2018 This wry, under-the-radar commentary feels prescient now, as if Craig was predicting the decade of controversy over Elba that would follow. Aja Romano, Vox, "Celebrating 10 years of Idris Elba becoming James Bond any second now," 10 Aug. 2018 At the splendid age of 100, Sevigny remains a wry, twinkling repository of anecdote and memory, an ageless witness to a golden era of design and hospitality. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "An Exhibition in Tangier Pays Tribute to Design World Darling Charles Sevigny," 3 Aug. 2018 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

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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