Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Dryly humorous, often with a touch of irony.
  • adj. Temporarily twisted in an expression of distaste or displeasure: made a wry face.
  • adj. Abnormally twisted or bent to one side; crooked: a wry nose.
  • adj. Being at variance with what is right, proper, or suitable; perverse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To cover; clothe; cover up; cloak; hide.
  • v. To turn (away); to swerve or deviate.
  • v. To divert; to cause to turn away.
  • v. To twist or contort (the body, face etc.).
  • adj. Turned away, contorted (of the face or body).
  • adj. Dryly humorous; sardonic or ironic.
  • adj. Twisted, bent, crooked.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To cover.
  • adj. Turned to one side; twisted; distorted.
  • adj. Hence, deviating from the right direction; misdirected; out of place.
  • adj. Wrested; perverted.
  • intransitive v. To twist; to writhe; to bend or wind.
  • intransitive v. To deviate from the right way; to go away or astray; to turn side; to swerve.
  • transitive v. To twist; to distort; to writhe; to wrest; to vex.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn; bend; wind; twist or twine about, with or without change of place.
  • To swerve or go obliquely; go awry or astray; deviate from the right course, physically or morally.
  • To turn; twist aside.
  • To give a twist to; make wry; writhe; wring.
  • Figuratively, to pervert; alter.
  • Abnormally bent or turned to one side; in a state of contortion; twisted; distorted; askew.
  • Crooked; bent; not straight.
  • Devious in course or purpose; divaricating; aberrant; misdirected.
  • n. A twisting about, or out of shape or course; distortion; a distorting effect.
  • To cover; clothe; cover up; cloak; hide.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. humorously sarcastic or mocking
  • adj. bent to one side

Etymologies

From Middle English wrien, to turn, from Old English wrīgian; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English wryen, wrien, wreon, wrihen, from Old English wrēon ("to cover, clothe, envelop, conceal, hide, protect, defend"), from Proto-Germanic *wrīhanan (“to wrap, cover”), from Proto-Indo-European *wreiḱ- (“to turn, wrap, tie”), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (“to turn, bend”). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English wrien, from Old English wrīġian ("to go, turn, twist, bend, strive, struggle, press forward, endeavor, venture"), from Proto-Germanic *wrigōnan (“to wriggle”), from Proto-Indo-European *wreiḱ- (“to turn, wrap, tie”), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (“to turn, bend”). Compare awry, wriggle. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In the meantime— He smiled again, the expression wry this time.

    Proud Helios

  • -- The term wry-neck or torticollis is applied to a condition in which the head assumes an abnormal attitude, which is usually one of combined lateral flexion and rotation.

    Manual of Surgery Volume Second: Extremities—Head—Neck. Sixth Edition.

  • "No, it did not," G'dath said, his expression wry.

    A Flag Full of Stars

  • That allusive, indirect style Westlake assigns to himself gives him plenty of room and time to wander away from his plot and work in wry but dead-on descriptions of people and how they live, the work they do, the things they surround themselves with, the places they go, their eccentricities and vanities and various insanities.

    Drowned Hopes

  • It has all the great Howard Hawks things: every dame a dish, every night foggy and filled with mystery; but the real thing that keeps me watching, that thrills me to discover another nuance every time I see it, is the joyful tongue in wry cheek that Bogey and Bacall play in every scene together.

    The Next to Last Day of May

  • Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine turn in wry, effective performances as Lucius Fox and Alfred the Butler, respectively.

    2008 July « the balcony fool

  • With so many differences that separate and divide us, I find it a treat to connect with smart, passionate, talented bloggers who offer their experiences in wry or poignant, frank or even silly on-line content in their blog.

    Bloggers = Faith Healers? « California Life: Better Than Happy Hour

  • Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club abounds in wry humor and sharp observations of human nature.

    The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith: Questions

  • The edition more than once refers, in wry self-defence, to the description of the character in 1984 who 'was engaged in producing garbled versions - definitive texts, they were called'.

    The Complete Works of George Orwell (reviews)

  • Webb is sometimes funny in his poems, which often present the author's defects, but he rises above the kind of modesty--often described as "wry"--that asks to be admired.

    Archive 2006-06-01

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