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wried; wrying

transitive verb

: to pull out of or as if out of proper shape : make awry


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wryer ˈrī(-ə)r How to pronounce wry (audio) ; wryest ˈrī-əst How to pronounce wry (audio)
: bent, twisted, or turned usually abnormally to one side
a wry nose
: made by a deliberate distortion of the facial muscles often to express irony or mockery
a wry smile
: cleverly and often ironically or grimly humorous
a wry wit
wryly adverb
wryness noun

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Example Sentences

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
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
His wry sense of humor about the whole affair comes out in his quotes painted on the walls of a room in the house, where a gallery of old photos chronicles its history. Biju Sukumaran, Chron, 7 Sep. 2022 With a wry sense of humor, a beautiful smile and an approachable manner, Msgr. Cassidy Jensen, Baltimore Sun, 27 Aug. 2022 Novak, who stars, writes, produces and directs, pours his wry wit and cultural insights into a taut murder mystery – featuring a revelatory appearance by Ashton Kutcher – that tackles a topical question: Why can’t Americans just get along? Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, 26 July 2022 It’s accompanied by that big, wide smile and that knowing look, suggesting both a wry wit and a willingness to banter. New York Times, 15 June 2022 Ladji’s work here is strikingly generous: her witty character is enamored of her pal and Ladji gives her a wry sense of humor and a delightfully bemused quality. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 1 May 2022 Many of them are living in Mexico, El Salvador, and Spain, but the largest share is concentrated in and around D.C. Sandoval, short and bespectacled, with a wry sense of humor, is forty and the group’s social center. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 29 Apr. 2022 But perhaps more so than any other act of PUP’s ability, the band employs a wry sense of self-deprecating humor to keep themselves in check. Niko Stratis, SPIN, 28 Mar. 2022 Shapiro is reserved, displaying an elevated wisdom and wry sense of humor, which one surmises is hard-earned. Greg Hanlon, PEOPLE.com, 18 Mar. 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.

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Word History



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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near wry

Cite this Entry

“Wry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wry. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

wryer; wryest
: funny in a clever or ironic way
a wry remark
: expressing irony
a wry smile

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