“I’m weary of anything that looks too easy. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.”
“Be weary of anyone who calls or emails you and asks for your personal information.”
I have to admit that this use of weary is one that grates on my ears every time I hear it (or read it).
However, it’s becoming a more and more common error. And as much as I want to harumph and grumble like the word snob I often am, it’s an understandable one.
But it’s also easily avoidable once you’re aware of it.
Why do we get it wrong?
Weary means exhausted or tired. However, because of the similarity in sound to wary and leery, both of which mean cautious or suspicious, people often get them mixed up.
And the more people we hear making the mistake, the more prone we are to repeating it.
Why should you care?
If everyone’s making the same mistake, why should you care?
First of all, everyone isn’t making this mistake, and it stands out to those who know the difference and chips away at your credibility as a writer. Right or wrong, readers expect writers to be experts in all areas relating to their craft. They trust you to know your words, and many, especially younger readers, learn a great deal of their language skills from what they read.
Second, while a good editor should catch the error, we’re not perfect, either. Things sometimes slip through. And there may be times you don’t even have access to an editor.
Then, there’s the matter of clarity. If you say, “I’m weary of all these offers credit card companies keep sending me,” does that mean you’re tired of all the junk mail piling up or suspicious that they’re trying to rip you off?
Finally, while this error is becoming more common, it’s still quite a way from becoming accepted common usage. Some day the definition of weary may be expanded to make it a synonym of wary and leery, but not yet.
Let’s be precise and deliberate with our words. Be wary of errors and never weary of learning something new.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.