adjective, war·i·er, war·i·est.

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 formswar·i·ly, adverbwar·i·ness, nouno·ver·war·y, adjective
Can be confusedwary weary leery

Synonyms for wary

Synonym study

1. See careful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wariest

Historical Examples of wariest

  • "Kid" was the vainest, the strongest, the wariest and the most successful plotter in the gang.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for wariest


adjective warier or wariest

watchful, cautious, or alert
characterized by caution or watchfulness
Derived Formswarily, adverbwariness, noun

Word Origin for wary

C16: from ware ² + -y 1
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 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