1 of 2


wor·​ry ˈwər-ē How to pronounce worry (audio)
worried; worrying

transitive verb

dialectal British : choke, strangle
: to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat
: to shake or pull at with the teeth
a terrier worrying a rat
: to touch or disturb something repeatedly
: to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling
: to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment : torment
: to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort
: to afflict with mental distress or agitation : make anxious

intransitive verb

dialectal British : strangle, choke
: to move, proceed, or progress by unceasing or difficult effort : struggle
: to feel or experience concern or anxiety : fret
worrying about his health
ˈwər-ē-ər How to pronounce worry (audio)


2 of 2


plural worries
: mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated : anxiety
: an instance or occurrence of such distress or agitation
: a cause of worry : trouble, difficulty
Choose the Right Synonym for worry


worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts.

worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation.

pursued a policy of worrying the enemy

annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks.

you're doing that just to annoy me

harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power.

harassed on all sides by creditors

harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment.

the strikers had been harried by thugs

plague implies a painful and persistent affliction.

plagued all her life by poverty

pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks.

constantly pestered with trivial complaints

tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath.

children teased the dog


care, concern, solicitude, anxiety, worry mean a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this.

care implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension.

a face worn by years of care

concern implies a troubled state of mind because of personal interest, relation, or affection.

crimes caused concern in the neighborhood

solicitude implies great concern and connotes either thoughtful or hovering attentiveness toward another.

acted with typical maternal solicitude

anxiety stresses anguished uncertainty or fear of misfortune or failure.

plagued by anxiety and self-doubt

worry suggests fretting over matters that may or may not be real cause for anxiety.

financial worries

Example Sentences

Verb We didn't want you to worry. Don't worry. You'll be fine. Don't make your parents worry. When they didn't call after two hours, we began to worry. They were fine. We needn't have worried. His poor health worries me. It doesn't seem to worry him that rain is in the forecast. We didn't tell you about the accident because we didn't want to worry you. Noun She finally ended months of worry over her credit card debt when she finished paying off her bill. His high blood pressure is cause for worry. Our greatest worry is that she'll get lost. His only worry right now is getting to the airport on time. His mother's health is a constant worry. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Advocates worry this rhetoric could result in more children of color being suspended, expelled or assigned long stretches in alternative school. Dallas News, 3 Mar. 2023 Some observers worry that such attacks may cause irreparable damage to India’s media landscape. Sarita Santoshini, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Mar. 2023 People worry about swimming and surfing in it but not about breathing it in, even though the aerosols can travel long distances and expose many more people than those just at the beach or in the water. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 3 Mar. 2023 Do the gate-keepers worry that patients who receive treatment will live longer and increase the burden on the healthcare system? The Editorial Board, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2023 And some educators worry about further extending the role of schools to include housing navigator. Neil Morton, USA TODAY, 2 Mar. 2023 While the personal touch on brand marketing helps attract customers, some worry that the trend could be bad for business longevity and founder burnout. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 1 Mar. 2023 No matter who ends up on the task force, some worry that regionalizing the water supply raises other questions and risks. Christine Condon, Baltimore Sun, 1 Mar. 2023 Some worry that the sharp erosion of checks on government power under the strongman rule of Mr. Modi could open the door to abuses of the central identity database. Hari Kumar, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2023
The world of artificial intelligence, once a concept confined to science fiction, is now not only a reality but a big worry in industries where the technology is being used to turbocharge—and in some cases replace—human creativity. Prarthana Prakash, Fortune, 22 Feb. 2023 Their presence gives us too much of our own agency: where, in a photo of his mother, Larry tells us to perceive worry about her husband, some might see irritation with her son. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 17 Feb. 2023 The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources quickly jumped in to dispel any worry about the pickerel. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, 14 Feb. 2023 Educators in particular worry about students turning to ChatGPT to help them complete assignments. John Villasenor, Scientific American, 10 Feb. 2023 O’Neil’s family has expressed worry about how Jenkins’ more moderate administration will handle the case, which represents one of the first tests of Jenkins’ commitment to police accountability. Joshua Sharpe, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Jan. 2023 In the interim, though, the oyster farmers aren’t able to carry out their business, and that could become the norm, some worry. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 23 Jan. 2023 The rise in cost of living was the primary concern of European residents, according to the poll, with 93% expressing worry about the crisis. Michael Lee, Fox News, 12 Jan. 2023 Anxiety disorders are typically characterized by feelings of tension, intrusive thoughts or concerns, and persistent, intense worry and fear, as defined by the American Psychological Association. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 6 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'worry.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English worien, from Old English wyrgan; akin to Old High German wurgen to strangle, Lithuanian veržti to constrict

First Known Use


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


1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near worry

Cite this Entry

“Worry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worry. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
wor·​ry ˈwər-ē How to pronounce worry (audio)
worried; worrying
: to shake and tear or mangle with the teeth
a puppy worrying an old shoe
: to make anxious or upset
his absence worried his friends
: to feel or express great concern : fret
worrying about her health
worrier noun


2 of 2 noun
plural worries
: a cause of anxiety : trouble

More from Merriam-Webster on worry

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

What Did You Just Call Me?

  • brown chihuahua sitting on the floor with squinting eyes looking at the camera
  • Before we went to her house, Hannah told us her aunt was a flibbertigibbet.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?