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Weary vs. Wary: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between weary vs. wary, and which spelling is correct for these commonly confused words? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m an English teacher AND artist, and will put both those realms of experience to work in teaching this lesson for you!

In this article, I’ll explain the definitions and demonstrate meanings with example sentences — all illustrated by my hand-drawn cartoons. Just as with my lessons on “How to Spell Rhythm” and the ever-popular, “No One or Noone,” my hope is that these humorous sketches will help the learning stick in your brain…

Weary vs. wary
Weary vs. wary, illustrated.

Wary Meaning and Definition

The definition of “wary” is: Feeling cautious or suspicious of someone or something. A person who is wary is concerned about dangers and risks popping up — sometimes a little overly so. The word is pronounced: “WEH-ree.” (It’s not pronounced like “war.”)

“Wary” is an adjective “describing word.” Other synonyms of wary include: alert, on edge, careful, guarded, or leery.

Using Wary in a Sentence

Here’s an example sentence with “wary:” The cute frog had a wary, concerned look to his eyes — almost as if he knew I was about to try to kiss him.

Often, “wary” is used with “of” afterwards, to show the suspicion is towards someone or something. For example: Swimming may seem fun to you, but I am wary of stepping on a sea urchin!

Examples of using wary or weary
Using wary or weary in sentences.

The Meaning of Weary

As an adjective, weary means tired or fatigued, as from doing too much exertion, not getting enough sleep, or experiencing something too much. As a verb, weary means to cause to become tired.

Though wary and weary look similar, they are not homophones, because they are pronounced differently, in addition to having different definitions. Weary is pronounced: “WEE-ree.” Often, people add “growing” or “getting” before “weary,” and “of” after it, as we’ll see in the examples…

Examples of Weary in a Sentence

Example 1 of “weary” in a sentence as an adjective – The cute snail gave a weary sigh as he crossed the 0.1 mile mark. “What a long, hard race!” she exclaimed.

Example 2 as an adjective, using “growing weary of” – I’m growing weary of people mixing up loose and lose!

Example 3: “Weary” as a verb – Your obsession with the weather is starting to weary me. Yes, it may or may not rain today, but who cares? We’ll be inside either way!

Remembering Weary vs Wary

Now that we know the difference between weary and wary, here’s a quick trick to memorize the difference. First, remember that “weary” means to become tired, because it has “wear” in it, as an ocean wave wearing away the rocks — just as fatigue wears away your energy.

Meanwhile, “wary” means to be alert for danger, and you can remember that because “wary” has the word “war” in it, which is a dangerous time. Ok fine — maybe you can think of a better memory trick, but that was my attempt! Hehe.

VIDEO: Wary or Weary?

See a time-lapse video of my drawing process!

Weary vs. Wary, in Sum

I hope this tutorial on weary vs. wary has been useful. Which other English lessons would you like me to illustrate? Do share!