not dry behind the ears, immature; unsophisticated: Adult responsibilities were forced on him, although he was still not dry behind the ears.

Origin of dry

before 900; Middle English drie, Old English drȳge; akin to Dutch droog, German trocken; see drought
Related formsdry·a·ble, adjectivedry·ly, adverbdry·ness, nouno·ver·dry, adjectiveo·ver·dry·ly, adverbo·ver·dry·ness, nounpre·dry, verb (used with object), pre·dried, pre·dry··dry, verb, re·dried, re·dry·ing.ul·tra·dry, adjectiveun·der·dry, verb (used with object), un·der·dried, un·der·dry·ing.un·dry, adjectiveun·dry·a·ble, adjective

Synonym study

1. Dry, arid both mean without moisture. Dry is the general word indicating absence of water or freedom from moisture: a dry well; dry clothes. Arid suggests great or intense dryness in a region or climate, especially such as results in bareness or in barrenness: arid tracts of desert. 28. See evaporate.

Synonyms for dry

Antonyms for dry

1. wet. 20. interesting. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dry

Contemporary Examples of dry

Historical Examples of dry

  • "Nothing but a half loaf, and that's dry enough," muttered the stranger.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • The feed is good a mile down from the spring, although it is very old and dry.

  • They had experienced heavy weather, but everything was dry and safe.

  • It must be a long while since there has been rain, or it would not have been dry.

  • "Dry or slimy, you would be just the same dear old Dick," she whispered.


    William J. Locke

British Dictionary definitions for dry


adjective drier, driest, dryer or dryest

lacking moisture; not damp or wet
having little or no rainfall
not in or under waterdry land
having the water drained away or evaporateda dry river
not providing milka dry cow
(of the eyes) free from tears
  1. informalin need of a drink; thirsty
  2. causing thirstdry work
eaten without butter, jam, etcdry toast
(of a wine, cider, etc) not sweet
pathol not accompanied by or producing a mucous or watery dischargea dry cough
consisting of solid as opposed to liquid substances or commodities
without adornment; plaindry facts
lacking interest or stimulationa dry book
lacking warmth or emotion; colda dry greeting
(of wit or humour) shrewd and keen in an impersonal, sarcastic, or laconic way
opposed to or prohibiting the sale of alcoholic liquor for human consumptiona dry area
NZ (of a ewe) without a lamb after the mating season
electronics (of a soldered electrical joint) imperfect because the solder has not adhered to the metal, thus reducing conductance

verb dries, drying or dried

(when intr, often foll by off) to make or become dry or free from moisture
(tr) to preserve (meat, vegetables, fruit, etc) by removing the moisture

noun plural drys or dries

British informal a Conservative politician who is considered to be a hard-linerCompare wet (def. 10)
the dry Australian informal the dry season
US and Canadian an informal word for prohibitionist
See also dry out, dry up
Derived Formsdryable, adjectivedryness, noun

Word Origin for dry

Old English drӯge; related to Old High German truckan, Old Norse draugr dry wood
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

Word Origin and History for dry

Old English dryge, from Proto-Germanic *draugiz (cf. Middle Low German dröge, Middle Dutch druge, Dutch droog, Old High German trucchon, German trocken, Old Norse draugr), from PIE *dreug-.

Meaning "barren" is mid-14c. Of humor or jests, early 15c. (implied in dryly); as "uninteresting, tedious" from 1620s. Of places prohibiting alcoholic drink, 1870 (but dry feast, one at which no liquor is served, is from late 15c.; colloquial dry (n.) "prohibitionist" is 1888, American English). Dry goods (1708) were those measured out in dry, not liquid, measure. Dry land (that not under the sea) is from early 13c. Dry run is from 1940s.


Old English drygan, related to dry (adj.). Related: Dried; drying. Of the two agent noun spellings, drier is the older (1520s), while dryer (1874) was first used of machines. Dry out in the drug addiction sense is from 1967. Dry up "stop talking" is 1853.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dry


In addition to the idioms beginning with dry

  • dry as dust
  • dry behind the ears
  • dry out
  • dry run
  • dry up

also see:

  • cut and dried
  • hang out to dry
  • high and dry
  • keep one's powder dry
  • well's run dry
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.