Word of the Day: Rye and Wry



rye  /  rī




  1. a cool climate annual grass (Secale cereale)

A shallow, worn-out soil should not be used for corn, but for cowpeas or rye.

From “Agriculture for Beginners” by Charles William Burkett, 1873 – 1962


  1. the grain of Secale cereale which is ground into flour, used to make whiskey or used as food for livestock

Every New Englander might easily raise all his own breadstuffs in this land of rye and Indian corn, and not depend on distant and fluctuating markets for them.

From “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau, 1817 – 1862


  1. a bread made with flour from the Secale cereale grain

I’ve picked up a great appetite for pastrami on rye and a nice cream soda.

Vincent Piazza, 1976 –


  1. a whiskey made from the grain of Secale cereale

Bye, bye Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die

From the song “American Pie” by Don McLean, 1945 –


  1. a Romani or gypsy man

Gentility will carry the day, madam, even with the young rye.

From “The Romany Rye A Sequel to ‘Lavengro'” by George Henry Borrow, 1803 – 1881





wry  /  rī




  1. humorous in a sarcastic, ironic or sardonic understated way

I think at its best the American sense of humor is the same as the British sense of humor at its best, which is to be wry and ironic and self-deprecating.

Simon Pegg, 1970 –


  1. twisted bent or contorted

And so you turned, pretending youth, courting

the girl as if you were a boy again,

leaving the wry cliffs to their erosion

and me to my observant solitude.

“Porth Ceiriad Bay” by Ben Jonson, 1572 – 1637


  1. of a facial expression, twisted or contorted indicative of dislike, distaste or mockery

To crooked eyes truth may wear a wry face.

  1. R. R. Tolkien, 1892 – 1973


  1. misdirected or perverse

“I await my death, I presume,” I replied with a wry smile.

From “The Gods of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1875 – 1950