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[wair-ee] /ˈwɛər i/
adjective, warier, wariest.
watchful; being on one's guard against danger.
arising from or characterized by caution:
to give someone a wary look.
Origin of wary
First recorded in 1545-55; ware2 + -y1
Related forms
warily, adverb
wariness, noun
overwary, adjective
Can be confused
wary, weary, leery.
1. alert, vigilant, guarded, circumspect, prudent.
Synonym Study
1. See careful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wariest
Historical Examples
  • "Kid" was the vainest, the strongest, the wariest and the most successful plotter in the gang.

    The Trimmed Lamp

    O. Henry
  • In their wild state they are the wariest and most cunning of all the denizens of the forest.

    The Pearl of India Maturin M. Ballou
  • How subtle and how dangerous are the snares which fate lays for the wariest of men!

    Queen Victoria Lytton Strachey
  • Could the wariest statesman have better parried that question?

    Joan of Arc Ronald Sutherland Gower
  • Not until he was full grown did his mother teach him how to hunt that swiftest and wariest of game—the hare.

    Lives of the Fur Folk M. D. Haviland
  • Who, then, was this bold lady who contrived so cunningly to ensnare in her toils the wariest man in France?

  • But the wariest fox is apt to find his paw in a trap, and Fowle, though foxy, was by no means so astute as he imagined himself.

    The Bartlett Mystery Louis Tracy
  • He moved towards the door, and placed himself at one side of it in an attitude of the wariest attention.

  • He had borne him all day like a warrior of might—cool as the wariest of leaders, bold as the fiercest of spearmen.


    G. J. (George John) Whyte-Melville
  • Ismenus, I will take the wariest courses that I can think of to defend my self, but not offend.

British Dictionary definitions for wariest


adjective warier, wariest
watchful, cautious, or alert
characterized by caution or watchfulness
Derived Forms
warily, adverb
wariness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from ware² + -y1
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 wariest



1550s, from Old English wær "prudent, aware, alert, wary," from Proto-Germanic *waraz (cf. Old Norse varr "attentive," Gothic wars "cautious," Old Saxon giwar, Middle Dutch gheware, Old High German giwar, German gewahr "aware"), from PIE root *wer- "to cover" (see weir). Related: Warily; wariness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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