Definition of wry in US English:


adjectivewryer, wryest, wriest, wrier

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

    ‘a wry smile’
    ‘wry comments’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of Calysta's eyebrows was up, and the wry twist on her lips was certainly comical.’
    • ‘‘It's funny to have a heartbeat’ he commented, his face twisting into one of wry humor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Instead, the writers present new twists on parenting with liberal doses of wry humor that even singletons will enjoy.’
    • ‘Director Peter Evans highlights the play's wry humour and latent evil with a low-key, ironic spin.’
    • ‘Anger, bitterness and disappointment course through Schmidt, but the film is wry and melancholic rather than mean-spirited.’
    • ‘Despite his virtuosity, Sonny Rollins always managed to express an underlying, wry sense of humor in his playing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Australian Dance Theatre's new work, Birdbrain, will inject a modern, wry twist into the ever-enduring dance text of Swan Lake.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And though it slowly got darker and darker outside, the peppy discussion, interspersed with slices of wry humour, just kept going.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Changing his dour expression, Alain pulled a wry grin.’
    • ‘There was no disapproval in his expression, only a slight wry lifting of his lips.’
    • ‘He had his arms akimbo and was directing at them a wry gaze of mixed amusement and disgust.’
    • ‘I gave him a wry smile and commented, ‘Well, now you've gone and ruined their fun.’’
    • ‘‘Thank you,’ Gale said, but she gave Julien a wry expression that the photographer did not catch.’
    • ‘A myriad of emotions plays over his boyish face - wry amusement, disbelief, disgust, and smugness.’
    • ‘‘That's the second time I've saved your life then, lady’ Duck thought, a wry grin crossing his face.’
    • ‘His mouth had a wry twist to it as if he took everything with a heavy dose of sarcasm.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He pulled a wry face as he swallowed, setting the cup down on the table again.’
    • ‘Cecil made a wry face, though inwardly he was relieved.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘You can only choose from these four Slab pizza flavours,’ the man behind the counter explained with a wry grin.’
    • ‘As Grant moved through his week of mea culpa, he gradually adopted a position of wry humility.’
    • ‘Aliette made a wry face, and turned away disbelieving.’
    • ‘Jac picked up a fork and poked at the greens, making a wry face and glancing with envy at her plate.’
    • ‘Alan shook his head, an expression of wry confusion on his face.’
    • ‘Deuce managed to keep a wry grimace from his face, just barely.’
    • ‘Despite the disappointments so far, there is a wry optimism among some UK firms.’
    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’
    • ‘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."’
    • ‘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.’


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