\ 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, 23 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective On an app that often privileges the antic, Mr. Boutilier’s anti-takes became a wry course correction. New York Times, 8 July 2021 The Book of Mormon, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not stage a Catholic League–style tantrum but instead took out a series of wry advertisements in the playbill, inviting theater-goers to receive a copy of the Mormon scriptures. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 23 June 2021 Jose Vivanco, a wry film student from Peru who’d started driving full-time and persuaded his girlfriend, Bianca Santori, to drive to support her sewing blog. Lauren Smiley, Wired, 22 June 2021 The actor and author Stephen Fry, recorded on video in England, gave wry depth to Cocteau’s often coy narration. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 21 June 2021 No matter the decade, Poundstone’s wry aggregations capture a view of Los Angeles as a place that is always arriving yet never quite lands. Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2021 Her wry dismissal of accusers is both what keeps her standing and what inflames her enemies. Washington Post, 1 June 2021 McCloskey seems to have had a wry sense of humor, and readers must pay attention to details when reading these tales. Sarah Schutte, National Review, 25 Apr. 2021 No matter the subject matter, the hosts’ chemistry and wry rapport makes every episode a delight. New York Times, 26 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

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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 29 Jul. 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

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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