Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: wary; weary.

wary; weary. To be “wary” of something is to be on one’s guard against it: cautious, watchful, and perhaps worried. E.g.: “Consumers remain wary of anthrax sent through the mail.” Stephanie Miles, “Apparel E-tailers to Spruce Up for Holidays,” Wall Street J., 6 Nov. 2001, at B6. To be “weary” is to be physically fatigued or, by extension, “sick and tired” of something and ready for it to end. E.g.: “Maryland players are apparently growing weary about being asked questions about Duke guard Jason Williams.” Michael Murphy, “Final Four Summary,” Houston Chron., 31 Mar. 2001, at 8. Doubtless by false association with “wary” and perhaps with “leery” (= suspicious and careful), writers sometimes misuse “weary” — e.g.: o “As a general principle, Congress should be weary [read ‘wary’] of trading tax cuts for expensive new entitlements.” “A Deal Republicans Must Refuse,” Wash. Times, 29 June 2000, at A22. o “Head coach Mike Novak, Steve’s father, likes his team’s chances but is weary [read ‘wary’] about being considered the favorite.” Guy B. Stuller, “Brown Deer Stands Tall,” Milwaukee J. Sentinel, 21 Nov. 2000, at S10. o “A stamp might be the next tool that helps unite Americans at a time when some residents are weary [read ‘wary’] about opening the mail for fear of becoming a victim of a bioterrorist attack.” Sean Adkins, “New Stamp Printed on Local Paper,” York Daily Record, 25 Oct. 2001, at B5. Language-Change Index — “weary” misused for “wary”: Stage 1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “The cohesion of the parts of a cabinet or other piece of furniture seems always the more complete, the less the pegs and tacks, so necessary to it, are exposed to view. It is a secret sense of the truth of this doctrine . . . [that] as taste improves in a nation, . . . the writers prefer short to long conjunctions.” George Campbell, The Philosophy of Rhetoric 386 (1776) (1850 ed. repr.: Lloyd F. Bitzer ed., 1988). —————————————
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