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[chair-ee] /ˈtʃɛər i/
adjective, charier, chariest.
cautious or careful; wary:
He was chary of investing in oil wells.
shy; timid.
fastidious; choosy:
She is excessively chary about her friends.
sparing (often followed by of):
chary of his praise.
Origin of chary
before 1000; Middle English; Old English cearig sorrowful (c(e)ar(u) care + -ig -y1); cognate with Old Saxon karag, Old High German karag (German karg scanty, paltry)
Related forms
charily, adverb
unchary, adjective
1. circumspect. 4. frugal.
1. trustful. 2. confident. 3. uncritical. 4. lavish. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for chary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Of such influence as he could properly exert among members of the House he was not chary.

    Abraham Lincoln, Vol. II John T. Morse
  • The maestro was an old man and chary of his words; yet even he was stirred to enthusiasm.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • They went sedately, in all seeming, for the mountain folk are chary in demonstrations of affection.

    Heart of the Blue Ridge Waldron Baily
  • He realized that, had it not been for her, the Camerons would have been chary of taking him aboard.

  • And one cannot be astonished if the Roumanians in Serbia are chary of believing that their native land has changed for the better.

  • There are scores of them, there, and some are none too chary about the sort of business they are employed in.

    In Her Own Right John Reed Scott
  • You must excuse me, Captain Ernscliffe, for it is one of the traits of my profession to be chary of mentioning names.

  • Capitalists were chary of aviation; they had no faith in it.

    Learning to Fly Claude Grahame-White
  • If it could be done by a subscription for two nights, for instance, I would not be chary of my time and trouble.

British Dictionary definitions for chary


adjective charier, chariest
wary; careful
choosy; finicky
sparing; mean
Word Origin
Old English cearig; related to carucare, Old High German charag sorrowful
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 chary

Old English cearig "sorrowful" (see care (n.)). Sense evolved 16c. from "full of care" to "careful." Cognate with Old Saxon carag, Old High German charag "sorrow, trouble, care." Related: Charily; chariness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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