Intermediate+ Word of the Day: weary

weary (adjective, verb) /ˈwɪri/ LISTEN

As an adjective, weary means ‘tired,’ both physically and mentally, and also ‘dissatisfied with something’ or ‘impatient.’ It is also used to talk about something that causes tiredness. As a verb, weary means both ‘to cause tiredness’ and ‘to become tired’ or ‘to become or make someone become impatient or dissatisfied with something.’

Example sentences

  • Jenny felt weary after her long walk.
  • The student was weary after studying so hard for his exams.
  • Nancy's boss was growing weary of her excuses for being late.
  • The prisoner passed many weary hours in his cell.
  • The hard work wearied Paula.
  • The mountain was steep and the climbers were beginning to weary.
  • The teacher was wearying of his students' bad behavior.
  • Her elderly mother's constant criticism wearied Linda.

Words often used with weary

world weary: tired, disillusioned, or bored with life in general. Example: “After working in the emergency room all her life, the doctor retired, saying she felt world weary and could no longer empathize with her patients.”

In pop culture

Listen to the poem “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes here:

Additional information

When someone is talking about the cause of someone being weary, weary is usually followed by the preposition of, in reference to dissatisfaction, or with, in reference to tiredness. So, for example, you might say that someone is “weary of” someone else’s bad behavior or excuses, but you would say someone is “weary with” the effort of something.

Did you know?

Originally, weary simply meant ‘tired,’ but now it is often used to mean ‘very tired’ or even ‘exhausted.’ It is a more formal term for all of these concepts. As with weary, you can also use tired to say you are dissatisfied with something––for example, “I am tired of the way he always dominates the conversation.”––but you cannot use exhausted that way.

Other forms

weariness (noun), wearily (adverb), wearying (adjective), wearyingly (adverb)


Weary, meaning ‘tired or exhausted,’ as well as ‘miserable or sad,’ dates back to before the year 900, as the Old English adjective werig (Middle English wery). It is related to, and may even have evolved from or in parallel to, the Old English verb worian (‘to wander or totter,’ as well as ‘to crumble or break down’), and can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic worigaz, though its origin before then is uncertain. Weary is also related to the Old Saxon worig (weary) and the Old High German wuorag (intoxicated). The verb also dates back to before the year 900, and evolved from the adjective. In Old English, it took the form of two separate, but related verbs: wēr(i)gian meant ‘to be or become tired,’ and was the intransitive form, while gewēr(i)gian meant ‘to exhaust or make tired,’ and was the transitive form, meaning that it needs an object. The Middle English werien brought both meaning back together.

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