[ wair-ee ]
/ ˈwɛər i /

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.

Nearby words

  1. warts and all,
  2. warty,
  3. warty dyskeratoma,
  4. warwick,
  5. warwickshire,
  6. warzone,
  7. was,
  8. wasabi,
  9. wasatch range,
  10. wash

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

Synonym study

1. See careful.

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

Examples from the Web for wary

British Dictionary definitions for wary


/ (ˈwɛərɪ) /

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 wary



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