weary

1 of 2

adjective

wea·​ry ˈwir-ē How to pronounce weary (audio)
wearier; weariest
1
: exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness
2
: expressing or characteristic of weariness
a weary sign
3
: having one's patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted
used with of
soon grew weary of waiting
4
wearily adverb
weariness noun

weary

2 of 2

verb

wearied; wearying

intransitive verb

: to become weary

transitive verb

: to make weary

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Sick and Tired: The Literal and Figurative Meanings of Lassitude

Lassitude and weariness make an interesting pair. As with many nearly synonymous pairs of words in English, one is derived from Latin and the other from Old English. Even though they both mean “the condition of being tired,” they are used in different ways. Following a common pattern, the Latinate word tends to be used in technical, medical, and formal writing, and the Old English-derived word is used when referring to physical, emotional, and spiritual qualities.

Lassitude comes from the Latin word lassus, meaning “weary.” Our English spelling comes from the French word that developed directly from Latin, borrowed in the 15th century. In French, the word las (masculine) or lasse (feminine) means “weary” or “tired,” and the idiom être las de means “to be sick and tired of.” This led to another English word with the same root: alas, a word that expresses sadness or disappointment, but conveys some measure of fatigue and resignation as well.

Though it sometimes is just a fancy word for fatigue in medical contexts, lassitude is also used in ways that are metaphorical and closer in meaning to “negligence”:

Congress was being choked by pettiness and lassitude.

The case was delayed because of sheer lassitude.

The failure was the result of moral lassitude.

Choose the Right Synonym for weary

tire, weary, fatigue, exhaust, jade mean to make or become unable or unwilling to continue.

tire implies a draining of one's strength or patience.

the long ride tired us out

weary stresses tiring until one is unable to endure more of the same thing.

wearied of the constant arguing

fatigue suggests great lassitude from excessive strain or undue effort.

fatigued by the day's chores

exhaust implies complete draining of strength by hard exertion.

shoveling snow exhausted him

jade suggests the loss of all freshness and eagerness.

appetites jaded by overindulgence

Examples of weary in a Sentence

Adjective I would remember the potential for return, all things circling as they do, into something like fullness, small moments of completion that weave together, like Penelope's cloth, doing and undoing themselves by turns, an unfinished pattern that guides a weary traveler home … Paul Sorrell, Parabola, May 2000
But for the wilted weeds that managed to jut forth in wiry clumps where the mortar was cracked and washed away, the viaduct wall was barren of everything except the affirmation of a weary industrial city's prolonged and triumphant struggle to monumentalize its ugliness. Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997
Every day for a week Ellsworth showed up to see Clarence and every day Miss Eunice and Mr. George Edward would exchange weary glances and shrugs … Randall Kenan, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, 1992
I need to rest my weary eyes. The miners were weary after a long shift. She was weary from years of housework. Verb What wearies me about Dickens, however, is his excessive use of words. Will Manley, Booklist, 1 Nov. 2006
I doubted what Indonesia now had to offer and wearied of being new all over again. Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father, (1995) 2004
Does it weary me to find some women of the next generation reinventing the wheel when it comes to planning their lives and dreaming of their romantic futures? Margo Jefferson, New York Times Book Review, 15 Apr. 2001
The work wearies me sometimes. these constant complaints are really wearying me
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
In the 1920s and 1930s, a room could be had for $2.50, making the Painted Desert Inn a popular stop for weary travelers across the remote desert. Tiffany Acosta, The Arizona Republic, 9 July 2024 Read: The real roots of midlife crisis Janet, played with a beguiling mix of weary chilliness and melancholic openheartedness by Nicholson, is ostensibly the main character. David Sims, The Atlantic, 19 June 2024
Verb
Divided into three distinct chapters, this coming-of-age drama stars the perennially underappreciated Julianne Nicholson as a Massachusetts acupuncturist wearied by the constant attention of her 11-year-old daughter (newcomer Zoe Ziegler). A.a. Dowd, Vulture, 20 May 2024 The story involves a timid teenager, wearied by bullying at a military campus, who stumbles upon a mysterious particle in the woods that transforms him into a superhuman and the indispensable defender against cyborg attackers and the enigmatic mastermind behind the chaos. Patrick Frater, Variety, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for weary 

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Verb

Middle English wery, from Old English wērig; akin to Old High German wuorag intoxicated and perhaps to Greek aōros sleep

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of weary was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near weary

Cite this Entry

“Weary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weary. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

weary

1 of 2 adjective
wea·​ry ˈwi(ə)r-ē How to pronounce weary (audio)
wearier; weariest
1
: worn out in strength, energy, or freshness
2
: showing or marked by weariness
3
: having one's patience, interest, or pleasure exhausted
weary of the delays
4
wearily adverb
weariness noun

weary

2 of 2 verb
wearied; wearying
: to become or make weary

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