Definition of dry in English:

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Pronunciation: /drʌɪ/

adjective (drier, driest)

1Free from moisture or liquid; not wet or moist: the jacket kept me warm and dry he wiped the table dry with his shirt
More example sentences
  • When cleaning the body of the light, it is recommended to use a dry, lint free cloth for the best possible result.
  • Traffic constable Paul Davenport told the inquest that at the time of the accident, the road was dry, clean and free from any obstruction.
  • If the soil seems too dry or too moist, adjust the controller.
parched, dried, withered, shrivelled, wilted, wizened;
crisp, crispy, brittle;
dehydrated, desiccated, sun-baked;
sapless, juiceless
hard, hardened, dried out, stale, old, past its best, past its sell-by date, off
1.1(Of paint, ink, etc.) having lost all wetness or moisture over a period of time: wait until the paint is dry
More example sentences
  • They knew the city might well end the practice before they could obtain a license, and they knew the courts could nullify the marriage before the ink was dry.
  • It happened in 1983 and it happened in 1993 and if it happens next weekend, the record books will have to be re-written before the ink is properly dry.
  • The ink is barely dry on the deal, but already interested parties in Australia are focussing on the process ahead.
1.2For use without liquid: the conversion of dry latrines into the flushing type
More example sentences
  • Calvert points out that the floods triggered by the recent storm surge had demonstrated the eco friendly nature of the dry latrines.
  • Under this Act construction of a dry latrine and its manual cleaning was made an offence.
  • But even where activists have successfully sealed dry latrines, the fate of the people is pathetic.
1.3With little or no rainfall or humidity: the West Coast has had two dry winters in a row
More example sentences
  • During the growing season, keep the roots moist in dry weather and take care when weeding, as blackcurrants are shallow-rooted.
  • On my first visit to the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, they were as parched and dry as any desert.
  • The polar continental is usually a dry air mass, having little distance to travel over the sea.
arid, parched, scorched, baked, burned, dried up/out, torrid, hot, sizzling, burning;
waterless, moistureless, rainless;
dehydrated, desiccated;
as dry as a bone, bone dry, as dry as dust
rare droughty, torrefied
1.4(Of a river, lake, or stream) empty of water as a result of lack of rainfall: the river is always dry at this time of year
More example sentences
  • Almost all of these are away from major rivers, dry creeks, and sagebrush flats, where recent sediments tend to cover the older rocks.
  • When water from a nearby active stream flooded into the dry watercourse, the nests and eggs, like those on the flats, were inundated with mud.
  • In Australia, salt is produced by solar evaporation from sea water, saline lake waters, underground brines and harvested from dry lake beds.
waterless, dried out, empty
1.5(Of a source) not yielding a supply of water or oil: a dry well
More example sentences
  • Residents have turned to the murky pond for their water supply, as truck- and pipe-borne sources have been almost dry.
  • Since then, one of the wells used to supply the community with water has gone dry.
  • Hesaraghatta lake, one of the biggest sources of fresh water supply to the city, went dry quite sometime ago.
1.6Thirsty or thirst-making: working in the hot sun is making me dry
More example sentences
  • Early in the afternoon, they approached a small cottage, where no well could be seen, but the pilgrims were thirsty and dry.
  • Ice cream sells better in winter in pedestrian malls and large department stores, whose air-conditioning systems often make shoppers feel hot and dry.
  • The drinking habits of the time involved the guest calling for a drink every time he felt dry.
thirsty, dehydrated, longing for a drink
informal parched, gasping
thirst-making, thirst-provoking, thirsty, hot, strenuous, arduous, heavy, tiring, exhausting
1.7(Of a cow or other domestic animal) no longer producing milk: the rye has been strip-grazed by dry cows the cows went dry in the wintertime
More example sentences
  • Yearling cattle, heifers and dry cows could be used to follow finishing cattle to clear off paddocks that have dried out.
  • Some winter feeding regimes such as the overwintering of dry suckler cows require little more than maintenance diets.
  • Cow numbers were held constant at 100 mature lactating and dry cows, plus replacements.
1.8Without grease or other moisturizer or lubricator: cream conditioners for dry hair
More example sentences
  • However, I kept noticing things before we left, like my face was too dry, then my hair was too dry, then I had to find lip gloss because my face was looking blah!
  • If you can't find a conditioner for black hair, try one designed for dry hair instead as these will have a similar effect.
  • If your hair is very dry, damaged or chemically treated, treat yourself to a deep conditioning once a week.
1.9(Of bread or toast) without butter or other spreads: only dry bread and water
More example sentences
  • Chances are quite good that lunch on any given weekday was a hamburger patty and cheese on plain, dry bread served with fries.
  • He hardly ate, a bag of nuts or dry bread seeing him through the day.
  • I also enjoy a light, fluffy omelet, or maybe basted eggs with bacon or strawberries and dry toast.
unbuttered, plain, butterless
2(Of information, writing, etc.) dully factual: the dry facts of the matter
More example sentences
  • In between are 11 pages of useful information, including dry facts and quirky anecdotes, encompassing every area of life.
  • He does not spout dry information, but colours facts with his own thoughtful perspective.
  • It not only conveys information, the dry facts and figures of the events, but also their full emotional weight.
bare, simple, basic, fundamental, stark, naked, bald, cold, hard, straightforward;
unadorned, unembellished
2.1Unemotional, undemonstrative, or impassive: it transformed him from a dry administrator into the people’s hero
More example sentences
  • I always love the incredibly dry, spare tone of the Times when it approaches ultra-weird subjects.
  • The politician's agenda does tend to be as dry and unemotional as his personality.
  • A dry skepticism likewise informs her views on the art world, and on the varying fortunes of Duchamp's work and reputation within it.
unemotional, indifferent, undemonstrative, impassive, cool, cold, clinical, passionless, emotionless;
aloof, reserved, remote, distant, restrained, impersonal, formal, stiff, rigid, wooden, starchy
3(Of a joke or sense of humour) subtle and expressed in a matter-of-fact way: he delighted his friends with a dry, covert sense of humour
More example sentences
  • He will be remembered for his quick wit, his one-liners and his dry sense of humour.
  • The show was hosted by a young woman who also injected a dry sense of humour into her performance.
  • But viewer beware, a dry sense of humour is needed to enjoy this movie to its fullest.
wry, subtle, low-key, laconic, sly, sharp;
deadpan, straight-faced, poker-faced;
ironic, sardonic, sarcastic, cynical, mordant, biting;
satirical, mocking, scoffing, droll, waggish
British informal sarky
4Prohibiting the sale or consumption of alcoholic drink: the country is strictly dry, in accordance with Islamic law
More example sentences
  • It's hard to find a country where a great many of the social ills aren't related to drink or drugs, particularly in the ones that are dry or have prohibition.
  • But the Wilson Act also left a loophole, in that it did not allow dry states to prohibit the importation of alcohol for personal use.
  • The distillery, you see, lies in a parish that's been dry since prohibition.
teetotal, alcohol-free, non-drinking, abstinent;
clean, sober
informal on the wagon, straight
4.1(Of a person) no longer addicted to or drinking alcohol: I heard much talk about how sobriety was more than staying straight or dry
More example sentences
  • Some people compare it to an alcoholic still craving a drink after being dry for years, but I am a steady weight now and take pride in my appearance.
  • Mr Keane senior was an alcoholic who would be dry for several months and a raging drunk the rest of the time.
  • He is a dry alcoholic: that is, he simply quit one day, without going through Alcoholics Anonymous or any similar group.
5(Of an alcoholic drink) not sweet: a dry, medium-bodied red wine
More example sentences
  • With spring swigging in mind, Somerfield is introducing a juicy new range of Antipodean Riesling, dry muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho wines.
  • Although many of the wines are dry, sweet Vermentino wines are also produced.
  • Clearly a dry wine such as a Fino Sherry or Sercial Madeira is most appropriate at the start of the meal, not the end.
crisp, sharp, piquant, not sweet, tart, bitter
6British Relating to political ‘dries’ sense 3 of the noun; rigidly monetarist.
Example sentences
  • Greg Urwin, how appropriate are these models of free trade and dry economic policies to island states in the South Pacific?
arch-conservative, right-wing, reactionary;
Economics  supply-side
informal true-blue

verb (dries, drying, dried)

[no object]
1Become dry: waiting for the paint to dry do not let the soil dry out pools are left as the rivers dry up
More example sentences
  • The flood victims either install themselves at our campsite or head back to London to dry off and restock, while I snatch a couple of hours sleep.
  • My companion ventured back to the beach to dry off.
  • We sleep in the cheapest motel we can find, hanging up our clothes and sleeping bags in the room so that they can dry off.
1.1 [with object] Cause to become dry: they had washed and dried their hair
More example sentences
  • Isn't it obvious that such an elaborate grooming procedure would be left to after one has washed and dried one's hair?
  • She quickly hopped in the shower, washed her hair, then dried it.
  • To sterilise your jars before potting, wash them well then dry them in a low oven.
make dry, dry out/up, parch, scorch, sear, bake;
dehydrate, desiccate, dehumidify
1.2 [with object] Wipe tears from (the eyes): she dried her eyes and blew her nose
More example sentences
  • Brett saw Daniel leave and leapt up, trying to dry his eyes but he knew his cheeks were still tear stained.
  • He got in his car and leaned his head back against the seat, he dried his eyes from threatening tears and drove off.
  • Sasha dried his eyes up a bit by wiping them on his shirt and tried to talk straight.
wipe, wipe tears from, rub, dab
1.3 (also British dry up) Wipe dishes dry with a cloth after they have been washed: ‘I’ll wash, Sara, you dry’
More example sentences
  • When I helped Gemma to dry up, the tea towel slid on oily cutlery.
  • Finished painting the conservatory, had something to eat, washed up, dried up, and ironed a top for tomorrow.
  • ‘I'll wash, you dry,’ said Jake, turning on the tap and staring at the water that gushed out.
1.4 [with object] (usually as adjective dried) Preserve by allowing or encouraging evaporation of moisture from: dried flowers
More example sentences
  • Fragrant barks and dried flowers hold their own appeal.
  • Healthy nibbles, for me, would be dried fruit, fruit and yoghurt.
  • Because I am currently burning the candle at both ends, got home and made my bread, left it to rise, and made my Moroccan dried fruit salad.
dehydrated, desiccated, dry, dried up, moistureless
dry up, dehydrate, desiccate;
wither, shrivel, wilt, wizen, mummify
desiccate, dehydrate, remove the moisture from;
preserve, cure, smoke
2 theatrical slang Forget one’s lines: a colleague of mine once dried in the middle of a scene
More example sentences
  • I averted my eyes from Guinness to watch Tony, and Alec dried, that is, he forgot his lines.
  • Sox is an actor who dries at an audition because he cannot relate to the character of a township gangster.

noun (plural dries or drys)

1The process or an instance of drying.
Example sentences
  • Soft towelling that gives you a good, clean dry every time.
  • The head seamstress decided she was clean enough, and hauled her out of the bath, and gave her a cruelly brisk dry all over, hoping to teach her a lesson.
2 (the dry) A dry or covered place.
2.1chiefly Australian The dry season: the grass was yellowing and the dry had started
More example sentences
  • Cattle were simply moved from one water place to the next: away from the river in the wet season, closer to it in the dry.
  • There would be stubble after the crop's harvested, therefore cattle feed, especially in the end of the dry.
  • The course is in top condition considering the dry, with a big help from the volunteers.
2.2Australian A tract of waterless country: the forty-mile dry
More example sentences
  • From the waterhole an old camel pad led out over the ‘eighty miles dry’.
3 (usually dries) British A Conservative politician (especially in the 1980s) in favour of strict monetarist policies.
Example sentences
  • Any self-respecting Country Party MP would have taken to the economic dries of the Liberal Party with an axe years ago.
  • But he says the divide is no longer between liberals and conservatives, or economic wets and dries.
  • Margaret Thatcher's reputation belongs to the whole Conservative Party, ‘wets’ and ‘dries’ alike.
arch-conservative, right-winger, reactionary;
Economics  supply-sider
4US A person in favour of the prohibition of alcohol: evangelical dries had seen to it that the nearest bottle of whiskey was miles away
More example sentences
  • ‘So far, then, as the liquor issue may figure in the campaign,’ the Century editorialized, ‘the drys can have nothing but opposition to the Democratic campaign’.
  • To do that, Snider heads out to the various tour stops and surveys the dries, including the hotels they may stay in, the surrounding areas and potential performance halls.
  • Exploiting division in their opponents' ranks, drys drafted the bill and pressured Congress to pass it.



come up dry

North American Be unsuccessful: experiments have so far come up dry
More example sentences
  • But in the aftermath of our victory, the search for evidence of this program has thus far come up dry.
  • Apparently the investigation came up dry and was suspended.
  • Between now and then, we either have to find some weapons of mass destruction, or come up with an incredibly plausible reason why our searches are coming up dry.

(as) dry as a bone

Extremely dry.
Example sentences
  • As water bodies dry up, and the supply lines remain dry as a bone, the city residents are in for a long and hot spell of drought.
  • But there was disappointment for visitors to Piccadilly Gardens, because the water feature there was dry as a bone after it stopped working.
  • In just a matter of weeks, Colorado and the surrounding states suddenly go dry as a bone.

(as) dry as dust

Extremely dry: his throat was dry as dust
More example sentences
  • Her arms and legs felt like hundred-pound weights; the inside of Tory's mouth felt like the sand of the Sahara desert, dry as dust.
  • Cocoa Puffs, dry as dust and hard as she poured them into the bowl, the glass still warm from the hot water.
  • My dad would try every now and then but his potatoes were dry as dust.
3.1Extremely dull; lacking emotion, expression, or interest: what the students learned was as dry as dust
More example sentences
  • I searched in vain for a subject that wasn't deadly boring, dry as dust, and leached of every detail of the kind that makes things interesting in real life.
  • US audiences will find this latter subject dry as dust and uninteresting.
  • Van Gogh may have attended art school in Antwerp, but he found it dry as dust and here we see his real teachers: Delacroix Courbet, Millet and Rembrandt.

there wasn't a dry eye (in the house)

(With reference to a play, film, or similar event) everyone in the audience was moved to tears.
Example sentences
  • Jackie's beautiful cousin sang ‘Ring-a-ring-a-Rosie ‘and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
  • After the three children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia were all named Child of the Year, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
  • Perhaps the most moving moment was when Michael's boyfriend read out a little speech, and when he quoted a Dusty song at the end I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Phrasal verbs


dry an animal off

Cease milking and reduce the rations of a cow or other animal so that it stops producing milk: cows are dried off about 90 days before calving
More example sentences
  • All cows are dried off together and all farmers do this at the same time.
  • His cows are dried off to allow them to calve down at a condition score of 3.2.
  • Consider drying heifers off even if in good body condition and give them every chance for the next lactation.

dry out

informal Overcome alcoholism: he intends to dry out and get his life back together again
More example sentences
  • Billy's lawyer alleges that Iris has a drink problem, while her lawyer claims that he had spent three weeks in a monastery drying out.
  • Apparently she's drying out in a hospital somewhere.
  • It's the additional bottle of schnapps for the alky who should be drying out.
give up drinking, give up alcohol, become teetotal, overcome alcoholism, take the pledge
informal go on the wagon

dry up

1 informal Cease talking: then he dried up, and Phil couldn’t get another word out of him
More example sentences
  • As BBC producers knew only too well, although he was a great talker, when faced with a microphone, he would dry up.
  • I am worried that when I perform in front of people, I will dry up.
stop speaking/talking, fall silent, say no more, shut up;
forget one's lines/words
informal belt up, put a sock in it
2(Of something perceived as a continuous flow or source) decrease and stop: his commissions began to dry up
More example sentences
  • With non-renewable energy sources drying up pretty rapidly alternatives will start to come on stream consistently in the coming years, Dr O'Connor said.
  • Many companies in the US over-invested on the back of ambitious growth forecasts and find themselves heavily indebted as cash flows dry up.
  • I think his cash flow may dry up and he won't be able to put his kids through college.
dwindle, wane, disappear, fail, vanish, subside, peter out, fade (away), die away/out/off, taper off, trail away/off, ebb, melt away, evaporate, come to nothing, come to a halt/an end, run out, give out;
become unproductive, grow barren/sterile, cease to yield



Pronunciation: /ˈdrʌɪɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • The forecast is for a mainly dry night and dryish day tomorrow.
  • The forecasters are split between light rain and dryish gloom for tomorrow afternoon but come together again on the longer-term prospects.
  • Generally, fondue is served with dryish bread cubes, skewered and then dipped into the cheese mixture.


Old English drȳge (adjective), drȳgan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Middle Low German dröge, Dutch droog, and German trocken.

Words that rhyme with dry

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dry

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