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[wair-ee] /ˈwɛər i/
adjective, warier, wariest.
watchful; being on one's guard against danger.
arising from or characterized by caution:
to give someone a wary look.
1545-55; ware2 + -y1
Related forms
warily, adverb
wariness, noun
overwary, adjective
Can be confused
wary, weary, leery.
1. alert, vigilant, guarded, circumspect, prudent. See careful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for wary
  • Medical colleges should be careful what they ask for as should residents should be wary.
  • Zebras must be constantly wary of lions and hyenas.
  • Yet for all that has gone so perfectly, he is wary of what can go wrong.
  • You had to be wary when you traveled, I realized, but you also had to be open.
  • The mood is cheerful but wary.
  • Employers are wary of hiring him.
  • Happy is he who is made wary by others' perils.
  • Home sellers pull out all the stops to attract wary buyers.
  • It loves a good drink of water- but she is wary to bloom as neighboring plants shade out the sunshine.
  • We drove without stopping, slumped low in our seats, wary of being recognized as foreigners.
British Dictionary definitions for wary


adjective warier, wariest
watchful, cautious, or alert
characterized by caution or watchfulness
Derived Forms
warily, adverb
wariness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from ware² + -y1
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
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Word Origin and History for wary
1552, from O.E. wær "prudent, aware, alert, wary," from P.Gmc. *waraz (cf. O.N. varr "attentive," Goth. wars "cautious," O.S. giwar, M.Du. gheware, O.H.G. giwar, Ger. gewahr "aware"), from PIE base *wer- "to cover" (see weir).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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