Printable Version
Pronunciation: wê-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. (Intransitive) To be troubled or distressed, to feel anxiety. 2. (Intransitive) To fiddle anxiously with something, as 'a squirrel worrying at a nut'. 3. (Transitive) To cause anxiety or distress, as 'to worry someone about the weather. 4. (Transitive) To fiddle anxiously something, to harass or bother, as 'to worry a loose tooth'.

Notes: We have a lot to worry about in 2017, so this suggestion is very a propos. Someone who worries is either a worrier or a worrywart. Worrying serves as an adjective and a noun, though if something worries you, it is worrisome. Other adjectives are worriable and worriless. Worry may be used as a noun without change, e.g. a worry, worries. A worricow means "scarecrow" in some parts of the UK.

In Play: We use this word when we experience anxiety about something: "I worry/am worried that June McBride will marry Phil Anders; she is such a naif. Using today's Good Word as a noun, we might say: "Kaye Syrah-Cera doesn't have a worry to her name."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out in Old English as wyrgan "to strangle" from Proto-Germanic wurgjan "to strangle", source also of Middle Dutch worghen, Dutch worgen, German würgen "to strangle". Its Middle English descendant, worien, kept this sense and was used in referring to the way wolves kill their prey. By the 1500s worry had taken on the sense of "harass, attack verbally", only a few steps away from its current meaning. Germanic inherited its word from wergh-, an extension of PIE wer- "to turn, bend". The PIE root had turned into wring and wrangle by the time it reached English. With other extensions, wer- became the compounding element -ward in toward, southward, and wrath, a kind of twisted emotional state. (Not to worry, we now turn to Luke Javan with gratitude for suggesting such an interesting, common Good Word as today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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