adjective, wri·er, wri·est.

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 formswry·ly, adverbwry·ness, noun

Synonyms for wry

2. awry, askew.

Antonyms for wry

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

Examples from the Web for wryly

Contemporary Examples of wryly

Historical Examples of wryly

  • “Yes, and without many other pleasant things,” said I, wryly and decidedly.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • Peter MacDonald said wryly, "We, too, were pressured into such a step."


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • "And a desire for more trank to keep the mood going," Joe said wryly.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • "On this island you can't get away from the phone," he said wryly.

    The Lani People

    J. F. Bone

  • “I was looking forward to—not worrying for a while,” he said wryly.

    Space Platform

    Murray Leinster

British Dictionary definitions for wryly


adjective wrier, wriest, wryer or 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 or wried

(tr) to twist or contort
Derived Formswryly, adverbwryness, noun

Word Origin for wry

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

Word Origin and History for wryly

1570s, from wry + -ly (2).



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