Weary vs. Wary: What’s the Difference?

It can be difficult to keep track of all the adjectives in English. An adjective is a word that describes a quality or condition of a noun.

In the phrase “the best day of my young life,” the words best and young are adjectives. Best describes one characteristic of the day, though the day may also have had other characteristics, like hot, long, or sunny. Young describes the one quality of the life in question, which could also have had other qualities, such as active or joyful, but hopefully not short.

Wary and weary are two adjectives that are spelled very similarly. They have different meanings, though. If you accidentally use the wrong one, people might describe you using the adjectives silly, uninformed, or dull. Of course, you could use the adjectives harsh and judgmental to describe such people, but it would be better to just use the correct word in the first place.

What is the Difference Between Weary and Wary?

In this article, I will compare weary vs. wary. I will use each word in example sentences to illustrate their proper uses. Then, at the end, I will show you a trick to fall back on when you’re choosing weary or wary for your writing.

When to Use Weary

Weary versus waryWhat does weary mean? Weary (pronounced we’re-ee, rhymes with leery) serves as an adjective. Weary means tired or no longer interested.

For example,

  • Weary of the argument, the woman let her friend believe he was right.
  • The Christian Bible proclaims that those who believe in the Lord shall run and not grow weary.
  • American consumers have been picking up much of the slack, powering the recovery by shopping online and buying cars. But there are signs that they, too, are growing weary of opening their wallets. –The Washington Post

Weary is sometimes a verb, as well. It means to become tired or disinterested or to cause someone to become tired or disinterested.

  • A batter hitting several foul balls in a row will weary the pitcher.
  • The villain told the plucky hero, “I weary of your games. Now, we fight!”

When to Use Wary

Definition of wary definition of weary definitionWhat does wary mean? Wary (pronounced wear-ee, rhymes with scary) can also serve as an adjective, but it has a different meaning from weary. Wary is defined as feeling or showing caution about possible dangers.

For example,

  • Even though the mouse was hungry, it was wary of the danger posed by the mousetrap.
  • I was wary to begin a new project with the end of my shift so close at hand.
  • Many investors are wary of the commodity price rally, saying it has been fueled by Chinese financial stimulus rather than a real recovery in demand or any output curbs from the big producers. –Reuters

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define wary and define weary There are a couple of tricks you can use to remember wary vs. weary.

If the word functions as a verb in the sentence, then weary is the only choice. Wary is not a verb.

Unfortunately, a similar rule doesn’t exist if the word functions as an adjective in the sentence. It might help you to rhyme wary with “scary,” since in a scary situation, you will want to remain alert and cautious. Alert and cautious are, of course, synonyms for wary.

Summary

Is it wary or weary? There is only one letter’s difference in the spellings of weary and wary. The meanings of these words, however, are not so close.

  • Wary means alert or
  • Weary means tired or no longer interested.

As a verb, weary means to become tired or no longer interested or to cause someone to become tired or no longer interested. Wary, on the other hand, is never a verb.

When deciding between these words as adjectives, you can remember that wary rhymes with scary, and in scary situations, you will want to remain wary.

You can also refer to this article if you need help.

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