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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
  • They are leery of unsolicited e-mail attachments, and careful about the web sites they visit.
  • Many employers, even in academe, are leery of providing letters of recommendation or references.
  • Despite the power of placebos, many conventional doctors are leery of prescribing them.
  • And plenty of people are too leery of the economy to take the homeownership plunge now.
  • If they say they're leery about committing to a home in this environment, you can help make the case.
  • However, the truck pit stop is usually spread out pretty far and the trucker aspect of it makes me a little leery.
  • Hospitals leery of making treatment records available online to their patients.
  • Be leery of offers to help you fill out loan or grant forms and applications for a fee.
  • Be leery of offers to help you fill out loan or grant forms for a fee.
  • Be leery of checks received from companies you do not do business with.
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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