Definition of wry in US English:



  • 1Using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor.

    ‘a wry smile’
    ‘wry comments’
    • ‘Never hurtful or judgmental, this wry sense of humour was never far below the surface, evidencing itself in a shy smile - but those eyes twinkled.’
    • ‘I've not known Bill for very long of course, though I'm glad to have been acquainted with a quiet, dignified man, with a wry sense of humour and a Granddad's twinkle in his eye.’
    • ‘Director Peter Evans highlights the play's wry humour and latent evil with a low-key, ironic spin.’
    • ‘And though it slowly got darker and darker outside, the peppy discussion, interspersed with slices of wry humour, just kept going.’
    • ‘Instead, the writers present new twists on parenting with liberal doses of wry humor that even singletons will enjoy.’
    • ‘Australian Dance Theatre's new work, Birdbrain, will inject a modern, wry twist into the ever-enduring dance text of Swan Lake.’
    • ‘As such, it would make a marvelous companion to Blackboard Jungle as a double feature for the cinema buff with a wry sense of humor.’
    • ‘Born in August 31, 1928, he was the 14th of 16 children and always showed a wry sense of humour often referring to his home as the house of sin.’
    • ‘She gave a wry smile at the comment on breakfast.’
    • ‘Levy's wry sort of humour and the ironic use of an English woman's perspective to describe the problems confronted by the immigrants is both clever and sensitive.’
    • ‘Chekhov's wry humour and dead-on powers of observation are a perfect fit with the clown-inspired style of Toronto's Theatre Smith-Gilmour.’
    • ‘Shot in four weeks for a modest $4m, it is also a triumph of minute observation, bittersweet pathos and wry culture-clash humour over brash Hollywood excess.’
    • ‘‘It's funny to have a heartbeat’ he commented, his face twisting into one of wry humor.’
    • ‘In fact, there was a wry humor about his features - a sort of elegance and a sparkling intellect - that made me want to emulate him immediately.’
    • ‘One of Calysta's eyebrows was up, and the wry twist on her lips was certainly comical.’
    • ‘Anger, bitterness and disappointment course through Schmidt, but the film is wry and melancholic rather than mean-spirited.’
    • ‘On stage, the duo really shine, with heartfelt songs delivered with evident passion, while the between song banter shows a wry sense of humour, which also infuses their music.’
    • ‘Despite his virtuosity, Sonny Rollins always managed to express an underlying, wry sense of humor in his playing.’
    • ‘Bursting with frantic energy, wry humour and a multitude of voices, it might be best described as a romantic comedy-thriller, but even this fails to capture its sparkling originality.’
    • ‘Mancunians claim that theirs is the world's first industrial city, and they certainly have a wry sense of humour, forged from years of hardship, that many Scots will identify with.’
    ironic, sardonic, satirical, mocking, scoffing, sneering, derisive, scornful, sarcastic, double-edged, dry, droll, witty, humorous
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  • 2(of a person's face or features) twisted into an expression of disgust, disappointment, or annoyance.

    • ‘There was no disapproval in his expression, only a slight wry lifting of his lips.’
    • ‘‘You can only choose from these four Slab pizza flavours,’ the man behind the counter explained with a wry grin.’
    • ‘Deuce managed to keep a wry grimace from his face, just barely.’
    • ‘Alan shook his head, an expression of wry confusion on his face.’
    • ‘Every time he refers to you as ‘Mr. Zwinge’ I cannot help but picture him with a wry smirk on his face, as if he's put you in your place.’
    • ‘As Grant moved through his week of mea culpa, he gradually adopted a position of wry humility.’
    • ‘The two men exchanged questioning glances behind her back as she came out of the garden and closed the gate, then Penniworth gave a shrug and made a wry face of amusement.’
    • ‘Jac picked up a fork and poked at the greens, making a wry face and glancing with envy at her plate.’
    • ‘His mouth had a wry twist to it as if he took everything with a heavy dose of sarcasm.’
    • ‘Changing his dour expression, Alain pulled a wry grin.’
    • ‘Aliette made a wry face, and turned away disbelieving.’
    • ‘Cecil made a wry face, though inwardly he was relieved.’
    • ‘‘Thank you,’ Gale said, but she gave Julien a wry expression that the photographer did not catch.’
    • ‘‘That's the second time I've saved your life then, lady’ Duck thought, a wry grin crossing his face.’
    • ‘He pulled a wry face as he swallowed, setting the cup down on the table again.’
    • ‘A myriad of emotions plays over his boyish face - wry amusement, disbelief, disgust, and smugness.’
    • ‘He had his arms akimbo and was directing at them a wry gaze of mixed amusement and disgust.’
    • ‘Robbie Neilson can only offer a wry grin as he admits that the twists and turns in the script and the highs and lows would probably render it all too unbelievable were it pitched to Hollywood.’
    • ‘Despite the disappointments so far, there is a wry optimism among some UK firms.’
    • ‘I gave him a wry smile and commented, ‘Well, now you've gone and ruined their fun.’’
    disgusted, displeased, discontented, offended, unimpressed, annoyed, irritated, irked, vexed, piqued, nettled, put out, disgruntled
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  • 3archaic (of the neck or features) distorted or turned to one side.

    ‘a remedy for wry necks’
    • ‘During the last twenty years as a rabbit breeder I have seen a great variety of ailments, injuries and mysteries appear throughout my herd and those of friends but the most challenging and perplexing certainly must be Wry neck.’
    • ‘Elizabeth styled him her pygmy; his enemies delighted in vilifying his "wry neck," "crooked back" and "splay foot," and in Bacon's essay "On Deformity," it was said, "the world takes notice that he paints out his little cousin to the life."’


Early 16th century (in the sense ‘contorted’): from Old English wrīgian ‘tend, incline’, in Middle English ‘deviate, swerve, contort’.