Being chary (pronounced CHAIR-ee) is being wary or cautious. If you lost two teeth in last year’s rugby season, you should be chary of signing up again this year.

  • Pronunciation: / 'tʃɛri/
  • English Description: characterized by great caution and wariness
  • Synonyms: cautious
  • Chinese Translation: 谨慎的(jin3 shen4 de)
  • Spanish Translation: cauteloso
  • ORIGIN: Chary comes from the Old English word cearig for "sorrowful, careful," which is basically what you are if you’re chary. If you’re a little suspicious of something and mulling it over, you’re being chary. A synonym of chary is wary, and both include caution, but some definitions suggest that it's obvious when someone is wary — it shows — while being chary is more of an inside, or hidden, distrust.


  • It would be chary of me, as a Post columnist, not to acknowledge the yeoman-like work the Times has done on the e-mail story.
  • Elected officials have been understandably chary of fiddling with something that engenders so much political goodwill.

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