Casting a weary eye


Image: Nightmare by Jean Pierre Simon via Public Domain Review

Increasingly, we read of someone being weary of something when what is really meant seems to be that they are cautious of or anxious about something.

The fact that we see this fairly regularly in the mainstream media suggests that the misconception is widespread amongst ordinary English users. The confusion is not helped by the fact that the two words are now indistinguishable in spoken English.

Sometimes a clue as to the intended meaning can be had from the context: if the user says ‘weary from‘ they probably mean tired, if they say ‘weary of‘ it’s possible they mean cautious. The cliche ‘cast a weary eye‘ almost certainly means cautious – as in a recent news broadcast:


Image: TVNZ website