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[rahy] /raɪ/
adjective, wrier, wriest.
produced by a distortion or lopsidedness of the facial features:
a wry grin.
abnormally bent or turned to one side; twisted; crooked:
a wry mouth.
devious in course or purpose; misdirected.
contrary; perverse.
distorted or perverted, as in meaning.
bitterly or disdainfully ironic or amusing:
a wry remark.
Origin of wry
1515-25; adj. use of wry to twist, Middle English wryen, Old English wrīgian to go, strive, tend, swerve; cognate with Dutch wrijgen to twist; akin to Old English wrigels, Latin rīcula veil, Greek rhoikós crooked
Related forms
wryly, adverb
wryness, noun
2. awry, askew.
2. straight. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wry
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Oh, I'll apologize," he said with a wry smile of discomfiture.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • "She is very like a boiled sole," answered the Vicomte, with a wry face.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Once he raised his head for a moment, while his lips were fixed in a wry smile.

    Casanova's Homecoming Arthur Schnitzler
  • "I've had vague promises from Wilcox," Sira said, with a wry smile.

    The Martian Cabal Roman Frederick Starzl
  • Wilding looked at Trenchard, who shrugged his shoulders and made a wry face.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for wry


adjective wrier, wriest, wryer, wryest
twisted, contorted, or askew
(of a facial expression) produced or characterized by contorting of the features, usually indicating dislike
drily humorous; sardonic
warped, misdirected, or perverse
(of words, thoughts, etc) unsuitable or wrong
verb wries, wrying, wried
(transitive) to twist or contort
Derived Forms
wryly, adverb
wryness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from dialect wry to twist, from Old English wrīgian to turn; related to Old Frisian wrīgia to bend, Old Norse riga to move, Middle Low German wrīch bent, stubborn
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 wry

1520s, "distorted, somewhat twisted," from obsolete verb wry "to contort, to twist or turn," from Old English wrigian "to turn, bend, move, go," from Proto-Germanic *wrig- (cf. Old Frisian wrigia "to bend," Middle Low German wrich "turned, twisted"), from PIE *wreik- "to turn" (cf. Greek rhoikos "crooked," Lithuanian raisas "paralysed"), from root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). Of words, thoughts, etc., from 1590s. The original sense is preserved in awry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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