\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Beilein said with a wry smile following the 94-88 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers nearly throw game away, escape with 94-88 win over Minnesota Timberwolves," 29 Dec. 2019 Her writing twinkles in its vibrancy, toeing its way between wry, sarcastic humor and an unadulterated earnestness. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "The 10 best romance novels of 2019," 23 Dec. 2019 Ball has the charm to convey his character’s disbelief, dismay and displeasure with his job alongside a wry sense of amusement at the silliness of it all. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "Dark and edgy Christmas at Penguin Point with ‘Santaland Diaries,’ Phantasmagoria | Reviews," 13 Dec. 2019 The savvy set piece is a dry, wry wink to this almost-off-the-rails ramble through – and over— Dickens' enduring Christmas tale. oregonlive, "‘Scrooge in Rouge’ review: Triangle Productions dishes out Dickens classic with pure camp," 2 Dec. 2019 By now the tea had turned tepid and had been blessed by pearls of my perspiration streaming down my forehead and mingling with a wry tears of perspiration. Monita Soni, al, "Chai tea, please," 25 Nov. 2019 The concept is simple: Make wry, revisionist comparisons between two different people or things. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Twitter Rewrites History with "Gonna Tell my Kids" Memes," 21 Nov. 2019 The episode provoked wry commentary on social media. The Economist, "Saudi Arabia weighs loosening more controls on women," 18 July 2019 Hopper needs to be tough and capable, but also wry and annoyed by things like bureaucracy or privilege. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Darkness on the Edge of Town," 29 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for wry

Cite this Entry

“Wry.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wryness. Accessed 20 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on wry

What made you want to look up wry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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