`weary’ and `wary’

The two words are pronounced differently. The first syllable `w..a..r’ in `w..a..r..y is pronounced like the word `where’ and the final `y’ is like the `i’ in `it’, `bit’, and `sit’.

The `ea’ in the first syllable of the word  ‘weary’ sounds like the `ea’ in `dear’, `near’, and `fear’ and the final `y’ is like the `i’ in `it’, `bit’, and `sit’.

In both `weary’ and `wary’, the stress is on the first syllable.

When you say that someone looks `weary’, what you mean is that the person looks exhausted. For example, after swimming non-stop for seven hours, the young boy looked pale and weary.

When you say that you have become weary of something, what you mean is that you have become tired of it. In other words, you have lost your enthusiasm for it.

Example :  Many people have become weary of the war in Iraq.

When you are wary of something, you are unsure of it, and therefore you are cautious of it. It could be dangerous or it may cause problems for you.

The word can be used with people as well.

For example, most parents teach their children to be wary of strangers.

It’s also possible to `keep a wary eye’ on someone or something.

When you keep a wary eye on someone, you watch them very carefully to see what they are up to.

Examples: The shareholders kept a wary eye on the developing story.*  I don’t think I’ll be able to keep a wary eye on anyone right now. I’m feeling sleepy.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ (The Hindu) – October 16, 2006.

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