Friday, September 28, 2012

Wary, Weary, and Leery

The term “weary” means exhausted or tired.  Many people use “weary,” however, when they should use “leery,”* meaning suspicious or doubtful. 

          He was weary of the motives of people he did not know.

This is not the correct use of “weary.” 

The mix-up probably is the result of the comparable definitions of “leery” and “wary” (obviously similar to “weary”).  “Wary” means watchful or distrusting, which is pretty close to suspicious. So,

A tired person is weary, a suspicious person is leery, and a store owner casts a wary glance at people who might steal his merchandise.

Hats off to Krisi Hartig, a student in my Advanced Legal Writing course at Mercer Law School, for suggesting this post!

*note the spelling—L-E-E-R-Y, not L-E-A-R-Y.

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