SKIP TO CONTENT

pry

To pry is to try and find something out that is none of your business. We all hate people who pry, sticking their nose into our personal affairs, and it is an annoying and disrespectful habit.

We are taught as children to ask questions, but sometimes those questions are used to pry, or peek into someone's private business. A nosy person will peek into some else's life the same way one might use a crowbar to pry open a crate (though — alert! — that pry has a different origin). Our word is thought to come from a word related to the Old English verb beprīwan, "to wink," which evolved into the Middle English prie, "to peer in," which gives us today's meaning.

Definitions of pry
  1. verb
    be nosey
    “Don't pry into my personal matters!”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    ask, enquire, inquire
    inquire about
  2. verb
    search or inquire in a meddlesome way
    synonyms: horn in, intrude, nose, poke
    see moresee less
    type of:
    look, search
    search or seek
  3. verb
    make an uninvited or presumptuous inquiry
    “They pried the information out of him”
    synonyms: prise
    see moresee less
    type of:
    extort, wring from
    get or cause to become in a difficult or laborious manner
  4. verb
    move or force, especially in an effort to get something open
    synonyms: jimmy, lever, prise, prize
    see moresee less
    type of:
    open, open up
    cause to open or to become open
  5. noun
    a heavy iron lever with one end forged into a wedge
    synonyms: crowbar, pry bar, wrecking bar
    see moresee less
    types:
    jim crow
    a crowbar fitted with a claw for pulling nails
    jemmy, jimmy
    a short crowbar
    type of:
    lever
    a rigid bar pivoted about a fulcrum
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week