adverb or adjective

: off the correct or expected course : amiss
Their plans went awry.
: in a turned or twisted position or direction : askew
His wig was put on all awry, with the tail straggling about his neck.Charles Dickens

Examples of awry in a Sentence

In his 1942 story "Runaround," Isaac Asimov offered his now-famous Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Most of Asimov's stories deal with things going awry because these laws don't equip robots to tackle real-world situations. Robert J. Sawyer, Science, 16 Nov. 2007
Beer is made up of a complex concoction of substances that stretch well beyond simply that of water and ethanol. There is ample opportunity, then, for things to go awry in the beer-making process. David Filmore, Today's Chemist at Work, January 2002
If you forget to sign your return, speckle it with correction fluid, or assemble the pages in the wrong order, the agent may take a much closer look to see if anything else is awry. Janine S. Pouliot, Parenting, April 1997
I was proud of my schoolteacher father. If his suit was out of press, and his necktie knotted awry, I was too new to the world to notice. John Updike, New Yorker, 10 Mar. 1997
Recent Examples on the Web Watch Cannon explain how his Mother’s Day plan went awry below. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, 16 May 2023 Following a romantic picnic outing between Mickey and Minnie that goes awry, guests are jolted from roving green hills to a cragged canyon to a waterfall and beyond, which appear seamlessly on walls and animatronics in poppy, cartoon style. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, 27 Jan. 2023 For any excess smudging, makeup artist Judi Gabbay recommends using micellar water to clean up the edges and smudge out the liner — a tip Hui also used in her video after washing off her eyeliner goes awry. Annie Blay, Allure, 18 Jan. 2023 And the results may ultimately inform situations in which motherhood goes awry because of depression or psychosis, potentially leading to new diagnostics. Ingrid Wickelgren, Scientific American, 23 Nov. 2022 Experts say this Kit Connor debacle shows what happens when queerbaiting goes awry – but that doesn't mean celebrities are immune from accountability. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 11 Nov. 2022 As Diego Calva’s Manny tries to get an elephant up a steep canyon, things go awry pretty quickly. Katie Reul, Variety, 10 Jan. 2023 Things go awry when the doll begins avenging every wrong that happens to her friend, from bullies' taunts to Gemma's own attempts at mothering. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Jan. 2023 This film is set at the lavish island home of a tech billionaire (played by Edward Norton), who gathers a group of old friends and social media influencers for a game that quickly goes awry, leaving everyone’s weaknesses and secrets exposed. Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'awry.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see wry entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near awry

Cite this Entry

“Awry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


adverb or adjective
: turned or twisted to one side
: off the right course : wrong
their plans went awry

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