\ə-ˈrī \

Definition of awry 

1 : off the correct or expected course : amiss Their plans went awry.

2 : in a turned or twisted position or direction : askew His wig was put on all awry, with the tail straggling about his neck.— Charles Dickens

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of awry in a Sentence

In his 1942 story "Runaround," Isaac Asimov offered his now-famous Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Most of Asimov's stories deal with things going awry because these laws don't equip robots to tackle real-world situations. — Robert J. Sawyer, Science, 16 Nov. 2007 Beer is made up of a complex concoction of substances that stretch well beyond simply that of water and ethanol. There is ample opportunity, then, for things to go awry in the beer-making process. — David Filmore, Today's Chemist at Work, January 2002 If you forget to sign your return, speckle it with correction fluid, or assemble the pages in the wrong order, the agent may take a much closer look to see if anything else is awry. — Janine S. Pouliot, Parenting, April 1997 I was proud of my schoolteacher father. If his suit was out of press, and his necktie knotted awry, I was too new to the world to notice. — John Updike, New Yorker, 10 Mar. 1997
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Before Tom and Mary can live happily ever after, seemingly everything goes awry. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "13 Classic Christmas Movies That Millennials Should Definitely Watch," 6 Dec. 2018 But the new investigation found that in the case of these hospitals, that process went awry. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Hospitals Billed Sexual Assault Survivors for Rape Kits. Now They're Paying the Price.," 29 Nov. 2018 But as one Twitter account pointed out this week, that's truly the best-case situation—and sometimes, the interactions go awry thanks to a little case of being starstruck. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "People on Twitter Are Sharing the Awkward Things They've Told Celebrities, and It's a Gold Mine," 10 Nov. 2018 One married trapeze couple learned that the hard way when their performance went horribly awry on the live stage. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "'America's Got Talent' stunt goes wrong for married trapeze performers," 19 July 2018 Some funeral home directors, though, have begun asking relatives and friends to sign documents that relieve businesses of fault if a campaign goes awry, or funds are misrepresented or misused. New York Times, "As Funeral Crowdfunding Grows, So Do the Risks," 5 June 2018 When a prom prank goes awry, Clara and Rose are held responsible. Katie Ward Beim-esche, The Christian Science Monitor, "'The Way You Make Me Feel' follows a teen's journey from 'chill' to sincere," 16 May 2018 Both men can be candid, a penchant that can go awry, as seen with the flap with Ms. Haley this week. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Lawrence Kudlow’s Uneasy Transition From TV to White House Reality," 20 Apr. 2018 To maintain armed security forces means to take on the risk that something will go terribly awry, that a student or someone else will be wrongly shot. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "When a College Employee Shoots a Student," 9 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'awry.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of awry

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for awry

see wry entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about awry

Statistics for awry

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for awry

The first known use of awry was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for awry



English Language Learners Definition of awry

: not working correctly or happening in the expected way

: not straight or neat

\ə-ˈrī \

Kids Definition of awry

1 : turned or twisted to one side : askew His hat was all awry.

2 : out of the right course : amiss The plans had gone awry.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on awry

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awry

Spanish Central: Translation of awry

Nglish: Translation of awry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awry for Arabic Speakers

Comments on awry

What made you want to look up awry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!