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[chair-ee] /ˈtʃɛər i/
adjective, charier, chariest.
cautious or careful; wary:
He was chary of investing in oil wells.
shy; timid.
fastidious; choosy:
She is excessively chary about her friends.
sparing (often followed by of):
chary of his praise.
Origin of chary
before 1000; Middle English; Old English cearig sorrowful (c(e)ar(u) care + -ig -y1); cognate with Old Saxon karag, Old High German karag (German karg scanty, paltry)
Related forms
charily, adverb
unchary, adjective
1. circumspect. 4. frugal.
1. trustful. 2. confident. 3. uncritical. 4. lavish. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for chary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let us ascertain, if we can, what it means, since they are so chary of informing us themselves.

    Life: Its True Genesis R. W. Wright
  • The maestro was an old man and chary of his words; yet even he was stirred to enthusiasm.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • Besides, since when have actresses become so chary of their favors?

    The Strollers Frederic S. Isham
  • "It was a pleasure he was chary enough of to himself," said she, laughing.

    Davenport Dunn, Volume 1 (of 2) Charles James Lever
  • He realized that, had it not been for her, the Camerons would have been chary of taking him aboard.

  • All this makes us chary of believing that Nature is prodigal of new organs.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
  • There are scores of them, there, and some are none too chary about the sort of business they are employed in.

    In Her Own Right

    John Reed Scott
  • Capitalists were chary of aviation; they had no faith in it.

    Learning to Fly Claude Grahame-White
  • I thought you knew that she is chary of her confidences, and that none of us is given to seeking them.

    A Pessimist Robert Timsol
British Dictionary definitions for chary


adjective charier, chariest
wary; careful
choosy; finicky
sparing; mean
Word Origin
Old English cearig; related to carucare, Old High German charag sorrowful
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chary

Old English cearig "sorrowful" (see care (n.)). Sense evolved 16c. from "full of care" to "careful." Cognate with Old Saxon carag, Old High German charag "sorrow, trouble, care." Related: Charily; chariness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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