Do you get confused about weary vs wary? In this lesson, I will teach you the meaning and pronunciation of these two confusing words. I will also give you some memory tricks to help you remember the difference.

Confusing Words: Weary vs Wary

You are not alone in thinking these two words are confusing! The confusion occurs because they are similar-sounding adjectives. A second reason these words confuse us is because they are both very old words, which have roots in Old English and Proto-Germanic.

Does the difference between these words make you feel weary? Watch the video below to learn the difference!:

The Meaning of Wary

The word ‘wary’ (adjective) means to be suspicious or distrustful about a situation or person.

The word ‘wary’ shares the same etymological root with ‘beware’ and ‘aware’. All of these words can be used in a sense of being watchful about a situation. Associating these words together in your mind will help you to remember the meaning.

How to remember the pronunciation of wary:

Repeat-after-me the following mnemonic sentence:

I’m wary of scary things.”

↑ Both ‘wary’ and ‘scary’ contain /eə/ vowels

The Meaning of Weary

The word ‘weary’ (adjective) is used to describe a state of extreme tiredness or fatigue. This can be in a physical or emotional sense. Collocations with weary are:

  • A weary traveller.
  • Thinking about your problems makes you feel weary.
  • A student studying for his exams may feel a sense of weariness.
  • Victorian ladies sitting in their parlours felt weary about the problems of the world.
  • Note that ‘weary’ is more formal and literary than the word ‘tired’.

How to remember the pronunciation of wary:

Repeat-after-me the following mnemonic sentence:

“When you are weary, your eyes are bleary, and you may feel teary”.

↑ The words ‘weary’, ‘bleary’ and ‘teary’ are rhyming words which all contain /ɪə/ vowels.

The word ‘bleary’ (adjective) is used to describe tired, red eyes. A person who feels weary will often have bleary eyes too!

A person with bleary eyes who feels weary.
A person with bleary, tired eyes.

Compare Weary vs Wary

The mnemonic image below will help you to remember the difference between weary and wary:

weary vs wary difference

▶︎ Learn the difference between more confusing words: ‘wonder or wander’.

▶︎ Learn a clear and confident accent: ✔︎

Free Lesson

Professional English: 12 Words You Pronounce Incorrectly.

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Jade Joddle grows your confidence and skill to shine when speaking English.

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