Origin of wry
OTHER WORDS FROM wrywry·ly, adverbwry·ness, noun
Words nearby wry
MORE ABOUT WRY
What does wry mean?
This sense of wry is a figurative extension of its literal sense, which means crooked, lopsided, contorted, or distorted. It can also mean contrary or perverse.
A wry smile and a wry expression are probably both somewhat contorted and intended to indicate a sense of irony or sarcasm. You might give a wry smile after telling a particularly wry joke (the kind of joke that’s so dry that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a joke).
Example: It takes a while to get used to her wry sense of humor, but she’s not as cynical as she sounds.
Where does wry come from?
The first records of the word wry as an adjective come from around the 1520s. It comes from the Old English wrīgian, meaning “to turn”—wry was first used in English as a verb meaning “to twist,” but this sense has since fallen out of use.
The words twisted and warped can be used as synonyms for literal sense of wry and as informal synonyms for its figurative sense—a wry sense of humor is often a twisted or warped one. Wry humor is often very dry, meaning it’s expressed in a straight-faced, matter-of-fact way. That’s why you might need to follow it up with a wry smile to let the person know that you’re making a joke.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to wry?
- wryly (adverb)
- wryness (noun)
What are some synonyms for wry?
What are some words that share a root or word element with wry?
What are some words that often get used in discussing wry?
How is wry used in real life?
Wry is usually used to describe a particular type of ironic humour.
A smart, honest & dedicated public servant with a wry sense of humor, he built #EPA — and then returned to it to stop the hemorrhaging under very difficult circumstances.
He was also a hero of the Saturday Night Massacre.
RIP, Bill Ruckelshaus, a man who made government work. https://t.co/Ony9MTSGRL
— Dan Fagin (@danfagin) November 27, 2019
Seguin also responded with a wry smile and was clearly screwing around. It was far from an "anti-analytics" moment.
— John Matisz (@MatiszJohn) September 15, 2020
Beyond thrilled to have an advance copy of this “witty, wry, and wonky” little mycological treasure. Available everywhere October 29 – and keep an eye out for a Lawrence Millman mushroom talk near you this fall. Full tour dates to coming soon. pic.twitter.com/oYCZmeVHaD
— Sara H-S (@shsnaps) August 16, 2019
Try using wry!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of wry?
How to use wry in a sentence
Richardson took wry pleasure in observing the effect on her social life of her appointment as chief tax collector.Margaret Richardson, IRS commissioner during Clinton’s first term, dies at 78|Adam Bernstein|July 13, 2021|Washington Post
The man in these posts comes across as a devoted dad and husband with a wry sense of humor, who likes fishing, grilling and secretly watching The Golden Girls.Inside One Combat Vet's Journey From Defending His Country to Storming the Capitol|W.J. Hennigan/Washington|July 9, 2021|Time
She’s maintained a wry humor through all the heartbreaking cases.With 12 men exonerated, the force behind Maryland’s Innocence Project hangs it up|Tim Prudente|June 3, 2021|Washington Post
Their job, he said with a wry smile, was to give away money, and they should be getting down on their hands and knees to thank you for giving them the opportunity to support something important.In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: The Bountiful Life of Vartan Gregorian|Richard Stengel|April 18, 2021|Time
When he does appear, he dispenses irony with the wry observational voice of an immortal.
Making sense of her life on the page, deploying raw emotion alongside humor and wry mischief, has long been a Bechdel pursuit.
The quick-cut trailer suggests a soft-core romp with dramatic intrigue and wry one-liners.French Political Sex Movie About DSK Sets Cannes Aquiver|Tracy McNicoll|May 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I looked at parts of it," he says, adding with wry self-deprecation, "I didn't see much benefit in comparing myself to Marlon.New York’s Greatest Show Or How They Did Not Screw Up ‘Guys and Dolls’|Ross Wetzsteon|April 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Her wry, progressive grandmother Oleanna Redwyne (Diana Rigg)—the real power behind the House Tyrell.Will Season 4 Make ‘Game of Thrones’ the Best Fantasy Show Ever?|Andrew Romano|April 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But Beard was, as Beard would have put it, "wry," which is the word people like Beard use when they mean funny.Doug Kenney: The Odd Comic Genius Behind ‘Animal House’ and National Lampoon|Robert Sam Anson|March 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Gwynne made a wry face as he sat down before the dressing-table that he might reflect his visage while he brushed his hair.Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton
Janet made a wry face and with the greatest care eased herself into a chair piled with cushions.The Adventure Girls at K Bar O|Clair Blank
To admire these same views, is it not admiring without knowing wry?Superstition In All Ages (1732)|Jean Meslier
Genevieve made a wry face; then, meeting Mrs. Kennedy's reproving eye, she colored.The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch|Eleanor H. (Eleanor Hodgman) Porter
King OLeary made a wry face, and ran his hand nervously through his hair.The Woman Gives|Owen Johnson