from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Free from liquid or moisture.
  • adjective Having or characterized by little or no rain.
  • adjective Marked by the absence of natural or normal moisture.
  • adjective Not under water.
  • adjective Having all the water or liquid drained away, evaporated, or exhausted.
  • adjective No longer yielding liquid, especially milk.
  • adjective Not producing a liquid substance that is normally produced.
  • adjective Not shedding tears.
  • adjective Needing moisture or drink.
  • adjective No longer wet.
  • adjective Of or relating to solid rather than liquid substances or commodities.
  • adjective Not sweet as a result of the decomposition of sugar during fermentation. Used of wines.
  • adjective Having a large proportion of strong liquor to other ingredients.
  • adjective Eaten or served without butter, gravy, or other garnish.
  • adjective Having no adornment or coloration; plain.
  • adjective Devoid of bias or personal concern.
  • adjective Lacking tenderness, warmth, or involvement; severe.
  • adjective Matter-of-fact or indifferent in manner.
  • adjective Wearisome; dull.
  • adjective Humorous in an understated or unemotional way.
  • adjective Prohibiting or opposed to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • adjective Unproductive of the expected results.
  • adjective Constructed without mortar or cement.
  • intransitive verb To remove the moisture from; make dry.
  • intransitive verb To preserve (meat or other foods, for example) by extracting the moisture.
  • intransitive verb To become dry.
  • noun A prohibitionist.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Without moisture; not moist; absolutely or comparatively free from water or wetness, or from fluid of any kind: as, dry land; dry clothes; dry weather; a dry day; dry wood; dry bones.
  • Specifically
  • In geology and mining, free from the presence or use of water, or distant from water: as, dry diggings; dry separation.
  • Not giving milk: as, a dry cow.
  • Thirsty; craving drink, especially intoxicating drink.
  • Barren; jejune; destitute of interest; incapable of awakening emotion: as, a dry style; a dry subject; a dry discussion.
  • Severe; hard: as, a dry blow.
  • Lacking in cordiality; cold: as, his answer was very short and dry.
  • Humorous or sarcastic, apparently without intention; slily witty or caustic: as, a dry remark or repartee.
  • In painting, noting a hardness or formal stiffness of outline, or a want of mellowness and harmony in color; frigidly precise; harsh.
  • In sculpture, lacking or void of luxuriousness or tenderness in form.
  • Free from sweetness and fruity flavor: said of wines and, by extension, of brandy and the like.
  • In metallurgy, noting a peculiar condition of a metal undergoing metallurgic treatment.
  • In American political slang, of or belonging to the Prohibition party; in favor of or adopting prohibition of the sale or use of intoxicating liquors: opposed to wet: as, a dry town, county, or State.
  • noun A place where things are dried; a drying-house.
  • noun In American political slang, a member of the Prohibition party.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English drie, from Old English drȳge.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English drye, drie, dri, drige, dryge, drüȝe, Old English drȳġe ("dry; parched, withered"), from Proto-Germanic *drūgiz, *draugiz (“dry, hard”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰerǵʰ- (“to strengthen; become hard”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰer- (“to hold, support”). Cognate with Scots dry, drey ("dry"), North Frisian drüg, driig, drüüg, dröög, drüch ("dry"), Saterland Frisian druuch ("dry"), West Frisian droech ("dry"), Dutch droog ("dry"), Low German dreuge, drög, drege, dree ("dry"), German trocken ("dry"), Icelandic draugur ("a dry log"). Related also to West Frisian drege ("long-lasting"), Danish drøj ("tough"), Swedish dryg ("lasting, hard"), Icelandic drjúgur ("ample, long"), Latin firmus ("strong, firm, stable, durable"). See also drought, drain, dree.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English dryġan ("to dry"), from dryġe ("dry")


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word dry.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Dispite the common conception dry is not the opposite of sweet, oenologically speaking.

    December 8, 2006

  • In medicine, refers to a person who is not wet, in the sense that they're not fluid-overloaded, and can also refer to the lungs that don't sound overloaded. "Mr Charles had some trouble breathing, but it wasn't his heart failure, he sounded dry."

    Can also mean that they're actually dehydrated. "Guy came in heart taching away, but he looked dry so I gave him a bolus."

    January 26, 2008