wry | wryly

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Civil Services



showing that you find a bad situation slightly funny

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wry - sarcastic

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The original meaning of the word ‘wry’ was to refer to something bent or twisted. It has now been adapted refer to something, such as a sense of humour, that is somewhat twisted or a little unconventional. This typically takes the form of being mockingly clever or grimly humorous in difficult situations. It can be used in both a positive and negative context.


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  1. Despite how awful the situation was, Jane allowed herself a wry smile and said: “Well at least it can’t get any worse!”.

  2. I was extremely embarrassed by my poor attempt at a speech at the time, but I can laugh wryly about it now. I don’t think they’ll be asking me to give another talk any time soon!

  3. I made a couple of wry observations during the meeting but they did not go down well. The directors were in no mood for joking.

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