Definition of worry in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈwərē/

verb (worries, worrying, worried)

1 [no object] Give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles: he worried about his soldier sons in the war [with clause]: I began to worry whether I had done the right thing
More example sentences
  • Police had worried about trouble after the match but apart from a few incidents of drunkenness the upset didn't cause patrols any problems.
  • But looking at the food which seemed somewhat unsanitary, we worried about whether it would cause other problems later.
  • It made you do silly things and it gave you an awful headache, but we never worried about the risks, let alone the long-term health consequences.
fret, be concerned, be anxious, agonize, overthink, brood, panic, lose sleep, get worked up, get stressed, get in a state, stew, torment oneself
1.1 [with object] Cause to feel anxiety or concern: there was no need to worry her I’ve been worrying myself sick over my mother
More example sentences
  • This is when I know I'm really afraid of something, or worried, or having anxiety.
  • The Matron was worried, and her anxiety had spread through the House like a disease.
  • But it's a concern nowhere near as worrying as congestion on the roads, overcrowding in schools and fast vanishing farmland.
1.2 [with object] Cause annoyance to: the noise never really stops, but it doesn’t worry me
More example sentences
  • The additional burdens of bureaucracy do not just worry British businesses.
trouble, bother, make anxious, disturb, distress, upset, concern, disquiet, fret, agitate, unsettle, perturb, scare, fluster, stress, tax, torment, plague, bedevil;
prey on one's mind, weigh down, gnaw at, rattle
informal bug, get to, dig at, nag
2 [with object] (Of a dog or other carnivorous animal) tear at, gnaw on, or drag around with the teeth: I found my dog contentedly worrying a bone
More example sentences
  • They want to study it and dissect it, picking away at its component parts like a cat worrying a mouse.
  • Blair and Howard are like two dogs worrying the same bone called ‘choice’.
  • Something to focus her mind on, that it would not escape her grip and return to worrying at her grief as a dog worries a bone.
2.1(Of a dog) chase and attack (livestock, especially sheep).
Example sentences
  • They would surely not be associated with the minority of hikers who leave gates open, stray from the footpaths or let their unattended dogs worry sheep but these people do exist.
  • The law states that if dogs worry sheep in any way then farmers are within their rights to shoot them.
  • It will certainly offer some protection in terms of sheep being worried by dogs that escape from hunters.
2.2 [no object] (worry at) Pull at or fiddle with repeatedly: he began to worry at the knot in the cord
More example sentences
  • Its long-fingered little hands worried at the string.
  • He shifted slightly in the black vinyl pants as he worried at the hem of his dark blue long sleeved silk shirt with black under tones.

noun (plural worries)

1A state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems: her son had been a constant source of worry to her
More example sentences
  • He was too anxious and full of worry about the upcoming war.
  • Poor Melindisar must be quite anxious with worry by now.
  • The result will be worry and potential poverty for millions, and for some losing their homes when they cannot keep up payments after retiring.
anxiety, perturbation, distress, concern, uneasiness, unease, disquiet, fretfulness, restlessness, nervousness, nerves, agitation, edginess, tension, stress;
apprehension, fear, dread, trepidation, misgiving, angst
informal butterflies (in the stomach), the willies, the heebie-jeebies
1.1A source of anxiety: the idea is to secure peace of mind for people whose greatest worry is fear of attack
More example sentences
  • Financial worries, a stressful job, redundancy or fear of unemployment, even moving house, can trigger depression in vulnerable people.
  • While some were losing their nerve amid mounting financial worries, the bullish chief executive insisted that the opportunity had to be seized.
  • In contrast to his early years, his later life was marked by financial worries, frustration and disappointment.
problem, cause for concern, issue;
nuisance, pest, plague, trial, trouble, vexation, bane, bugbear
informal pain, pain in the neck, headache, hassle, stress


not to worry

informal Used to reassure someone by telling them that a situation is not serious: not to worry—no harm done
More example sentences
  • Well, we discovered something really weird about them; actually, we heard it on the radio but not to worry.
  • If you happen to be male, and in a relationship, and you also happen to forget what day it is - not to worry.
  • This dinosaur committee is being erased this month, so not to worry.



Pronunciation: /ˈwərēər/
Example sentences
  • There were some in there who were worriers more than I was, so we tried to keep them a bit more buoyant.
  • Teenage turns everyone into compulsive worriers.
  • That was ambivalent enough to intrigue Democratic worriers.


Old English wyrgan 'strangle.' In Middle English the original sense of the verb gave rise to the meaning 'seize by the throat and tear', later figuratively 'harass', whence 'cause anxiety to' (early 19th century, the date also of the noun).

  • In Old English worry was ‘to strangle’. The Middle Ages saw the meanings ‘to choke with a mouthful of food’, ‘to seize by the throat and tear’, and ‘to swallow greedily’, and in the 16th century ‘to harass’. This gave rise to ‘to annoy or disturb’ in the late 17th century, and then ‘to cause anxiety to’. The sense ‘to feel anxious or troubled’ (he worried about his son) is not recorded until the 1860s, and was initially regarded as a rather informal use.

Words that rhyme with worry

curry, dhurrie, flurry, hurry, Murray, scurry, slurry, surrey

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wor·ry

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