\ 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, "From two cartoonists, twisted takes on life with Trump," 23 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The game bounces wildly between violence and wry humor, with some dark and harrowing commentary. Reid Mccarter, Wired, "Outriders Is Grinning Through the Apocalypse," 10 Apr. 2021 The goal was to use wry humor and witty memes to drown out Chinese internet users and bots who often flood platforms with pro-Beijing posts. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Twitter has officially recognized the #MilkTeaAlliance," 8 Apr. 2021 Others are processing the situation with wry humor, like the Instagram account @Whistler_Memes. Jayme Moye, Outside Online, "Whistler, Revelstoke, and Big White Close Due to COVID," 2 Apr. 2021 The heavy current events going on right now are a little easier to take with a dose of wry humor mixed in, which is why the pundits on Pod Save America are making things a little more bearable. Leigh Cesiro, Vulture, "This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Conan Asks Ronna," 14 Jan. 2021 Walter by infusing Evelyn with pathos, Segal by infusing Brooks with wry self-awareness. Washington Post, "Jessica Walter and George Segal personified a time when movies grew up," 26 Mar. 2021 Woolf is forty-eight and wry, with no-nonsense glasses and chestnut hair. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, "When Your Muses Are Leonard Cohen and Bernie Madoff’s Wife, Ruth," 15 Mar. 2021 Who brought wry comedy, a dual identity and a memorable wink to this Disney+ series? New York Times, "Kathryn Hahn Talks About Her Insidious, Perfidious Role on ‘WandaVision’," 7 Mar. 2021 And yet Fake Accounts is a strange and difficult book, one in which the writer takes a dazzling premise and does little with it beyond making a string of wry comments. Scott W. Stern, The New Republic, "Lauren Oyler Is a Tough Critic of Contemporary Fiction. Can Her Novel Do Better?," 11 Feb. 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

Time Traveler

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 15 Apr. 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

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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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