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[leer-ee] /ˈlɪər i/
adjective, leerier, leeriest.
wary; suspicious (usually followed by of):
I'm leery of his financial advice.
Archaic. knowing; alert.
Origin of leery1
1790-1800; leer1 + -y1
Related forms
leerily, adverb
leeriness, noun
Can be confused
wary, weary, leery.


[leer-ee] /ˈlɪər i/
adjective, leerier, leeriest.
leer2 .
leer2 + -y1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for leery
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was a sort of leery look about it, and it seemed to me as if she had just picked you out and meant to have you.

    The Ocean Cat's Paw George Manville Fenn
  • Their emotions are mostly expressed by indeterminable, leery grins.

  • The "Friend" will give you a lot of advertising to place for them, for they are always "leery" of competition.

    The Bread Line Albert Bigelow Paine
  • She was entirely frigid or else so leery of men that she might as well have been one herself.

    Mate in Two Moves Winston Marks
  • But be leery that we don't get stuck for non-performance: which we can't afford.

    Yellowstone Nights Herbert Quick
British Dictionary definitions for leery


adjective leerier, leeriest, learier, leariest
(mainly dialect) knowing or sly
(slang) (foll by of) suspicious or wary
(slang) rowdy or boisterous
Derived Forms
leeriness, leariness, noun
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from obsolete sense (to look askance) of leer
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 leery

"untrusting, suspicious, alert," 1718, originally slang, with -y (2), and perhaps from dialectal lere "learning, knowledge" (see lore), or from leer (v.) in some now-obscure sense. OED suggests connection with archaic leer (adj.) "empty, useless," a general Germanic word (cf. German leer, Dutch laar), of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for leery



Untrusting; suspicious; wary: He was leery of toting so much money/ Cheyfitz and Farrell exchanged leery glances

[1718+; probably fr British dialect lere, ''learning, knowledge'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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