From Middle English worien, werien, wirien, wirwen, wyryȝen (to choke, strangle), from Old English wyrġan, from Proto-Germanic *wurgijaną, from Proto-Indo-European *werǵʰ- (bind, squeeze). Cognate with Dutch worgen, wurgen, German würgen. Compare Latin urgere (to press, push), Sanskrit वृहति (vṛhati, to tear out, pluck), Lithuanian ver̃žti (to string; squeeze), Russian (poetic) отверза́ть (otverzátʹ, to open, literally to untie). Related to wring.



worry (third-person singular simple present worries, present participle worrying, simple past and past participle worried)

  1. (intransitive) To be troubled; to give way to mental anxiety or doubt.
    Stop worrying about your test; it’ll be fine.
  2. (transitive) Disturb the peace of mind of; afflict with mental agitation or distress.
    • 2013 August 10, “Can China clean up fast enough?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      That worries the government, which fears that environmental activism could become the foundation for more general political opposition.
    Your tone of voice worries me.
  3. (transitive) To harass; to irritate or distress.
    The President was worried into military action by persistent advisors.
  4. (transitive) To seize or shake by the throat, especially of a dog or wolf.
    Your dog’s been worrying sheep again.
    • 1784, The House that Jack Built, page 7:
      This is the Dog, that worried the Cat, that killed the Rat, that ate the Malt, that lay in the Houſe that Jack built.
  5. (transitive) To touch repeatedly, to fiddle with.
    • 1997, David Sedaris, "A Plague of Tics", Naked, page 15:
      So what if I wanted to touch my nose to the windshield? Who was it hurting? Why was it that he could repeatedly worry his change and bite his lower lip without the threat of punishment?
    • 2002, Masha Hamilton, Staircase of a Thousand Steps, page 272:
      No stories, no arguments. He just worries his prayer beads.
  6. (transitive, obsolete, Scotland) To strangle.
    • 1891, Journal of Jurisprudence and Scottish Law Magazine (1891), Execution of the Judgment of Death, page 397:
      We read (Law's Memor. Pref. lix.) that "one John Brugh, a notorious warlock (wizard) in the parochin of Fossoquhy, by the space of thirty-six years, was worried at a stake and burned, 1643."


  • (trouble mentally): fret

Derived termsEdit



worry (countable and uncountable, plural worries)

  1. A strong feeling of anxiety.
    I'm afflicted by worry throughout the night.
  2. An instance or cause of such a feeling.
    My main worry is that I'll miss the train.
  3. A person who causes worry.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 305:
      They could never make him speak a word, although he was old enough, in short, he was a perfect worry night and day.

Derived termsEdit





  1. (transitive) To strangle.