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adjective, wri·er, wri·est.
  1. produced by a distortion or lopsidedness of the facial features: a wry grin.
  2. abnormally bent or turned to one side; twisted; crooked: a wry mouth.
  3. devious in course or purpose; misdirected.
  4. contrary; perverse.
  5. distorted or perverted, as in meaning.
  6. bitterly or disdainfully ironic or amusing: a wry remark.
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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

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2. awry, askew.

Antonyms for wry

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for wryness

deformity, deformation, unsightliness, pout, twist, grimace, ugliness, dislocation, malformation, anamorphosis, misproportion, wryness

Examples from the Web for wryness

Historical Examples of wryness

  • There was the smallest possible twist of wryness to the man's lips as he admitted to himself the necessity for the final words.

    The Triumph of John Kars

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for wryness


adjective wrier, wriest, wryer or wryest
  1. twisted, contorted, or askew
  2. (of a facial expression) produced or characterized by contorting of the features, usually indicating dislike
  3. drily humorous; sardonic
  4. warped, misdirected, or perverse
  5. (of words, thoughts, etc) unsuitable or wrong
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verb wries, wrying or wried
  1. (tr) to twist or contort
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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 wryness



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper