Averse vs. adverse?

Use averse to describe a person’s feelings of distaste or dislike for something. Use adverse to express a condition, reaction, or situation that is harmful or unfavorable.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What is the difference between averse and adverse?

When tasked with describing something you’re opposed to, it’s tempting to use words like averse and adverse interchangeably. But while these adjectives are both negative words with similar spellings, they ultimately describe different things:

  • Averse describes a person’s feelings of distaste or dislike for something. 
  • Adverse describes a condition, reaction, or situation that is harmful or unfavorable.

What does adverse mean?

The adjective adverse describes something as harmful, unfavorable, or contrary (as in, it prevents success and development or “opposes one’s interests”). Archaic usage of the word describes something as “opposite in position,” but in most cases these days, “adverse” describes an impact, effect, or reaction.

Example sentences: 

  • Adverse side effects of the medication include dizziness, nausea, weight gain, and anxiety.” 
  • “A new study finds adverse experiences in childhood are responsible for the growing rate of chronic depression in adults.”
  • “Houselessness and food scarcity are just a few of the adverse circumstances caused by the mega tornado and subsequent rainstorms.”
  • “Vibrations from the earthquake had an adverse impact on Valley residents.”


Antagonistic, antipathic, contrary, counter, damaging, deleterious, disadvantageous, dissenting, detrimental, harmful, hostile, inimical, negative, noxious, opposing, prejudicial, unfavorable, unfriendly, unfortunate, unhealthy, untoward.


Advantageous, benign, favorable, friendly, harmless, innocent, positive, safe, supportive, sympathetic, well-disposed.

Etymology of adverse

Late Middle English adverse comes from Old French advers via Latin adversus for ‘against’ or ‘opposite’ (from the past participle advertere). 

What does averse mean?

Averse” is also an adjective, except we use it to describe a person’s strong feeling of opposition to something. Oftentimes, we use the adjective with the preposition to when describing the feeling of “repugnance, dislike, or distaste.” 

Example sentences:

  • “On rainy days, he’s averse to anything but chicken noodle soup.” 
  • “I am not averse to learning new tricks.” 
  • “Social anxiety has caused her to become averse to phone calls, Zoom meetings, or joining a large group of people.”
  • “Childhood trauma involving attachment security in relationships can cause adults to be more or less risk-averse than adults with healthy upbringings.”


Afraid, allergic, antipathetic, disinclined, intolerant, opposed, reluctant, repelled, repulsed, revolted, unwilling. 


Admiring, against, appreciative, charmed, delighted, fond, friendly, pleased, sympathetic, tickled, tolerant, understanding.

Etymology of averse

English averse emerged in the 16th century from Latin aversus (‘turned away from’), the past participle of avertere (‘to turn away’).

How to use adverse in a sentence?

Use adverse to describe a harmful, unfavorable, or hostile thing, and especially when modifying singular or plural nouns like “situations,” “conditions,” “events,” “effects,” “experiences,” or “symptoms.” 

Published examples of adverse

“In other words, adverse reactions from vaccines are rare — especially when compared with the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.” –  LA Times

“An orange alert urges residents and authorities to ‘be prepared’ for adverse weather conditions.” – The Weather Channel

“Upon arriving at the helibase, the helicopter experienced adverse winds, which caused a hard landing of the aircraft, the DNRC said.” – Helena Independent Record

“Both the original 2013 study and new retrospective analysis found that wind turbine noise and proximity, respectively, were not associated with any adverse outcomes except for annoyance.” – NOVA

“He expressed hope that China will not impose a tariff after its interim report this week, but said the “track record” of adverse regulatory decisions was a cause for concern.” — The Guardian

How to use averse in a sentence?

Use averse to describe a person’s attitude or feeling of disgust, distaste, or dislike of something. When using “averse” to modify a noun, be sure to include a hyphen. Otherwise, the adjective typically accompanies the preposition to.

Published examples of averse

“Or his clumsy avidity as he climbs into his mum’s lap, like an overgrown mastiff that thinks it’s still a puppy, or his defiant cuddling-up to the contact-averse Hench.” — New York Times

“Being risk-averse is part of any business, the difference for movie studios is there is always a balancing act between art and profit…” – LRM Online

“Contenders sparring in their first debate on Wednesday agreed that the economic system has helped mainly the rich. Even on socialism-averse Wall Street that idea has gained traction.” — Reuters

“… while Major League Baseball remained shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kershaw, normally averse to the spotlight, did something unusual.” – LA Times

“Witus was a philosophy major and is a Harvard law school graduate, so he is not averse to making an argument.” – Houston Chronicle 

FAQ: Related to averse vs. adverse

Is it an adverse reaction or an averse reaction?

Whether it’s physical or emotional, a reaction is a thing, not a person. Therefore, the correct statement to use is “adverse reaction,” not “averse reaction.” 

Adverse vs. averse: Which is more common in the United States?

According to Lexico, the word adverse is more common than averse for both  British and American English. 

What is the noun form of adverse?

The noun form of adverse is adverseness, which is the state of acting in a contrary, harmful, or oppositional manner. However, the word adverse shares a connotation with the noun adversity, which means “a difficult or unpleasant situation.” The common denominator between the three words involves the Latin past participle advertere: ad- (‘to’) + vertere (‘to turn’). 

Are averse and adverse homophones?

Homophones are pairs of words that share the same pronunciation but have different meanings, spellings, or origins. (You might recognize a few from previous Word Counter lessons, like “lead vs. led” or “payed vs. paid.”)  However, averse and adverse have similar spellings, origins, and meanings, so they are not true homophones (but they are nearly similar enough). 

Test Yourself!

Test how well you understand the difference between averse and adverse with the following multiple-choice questions. 

  1. True or false?: Since adverse and averse have similar meanings, we can use either term to describe bad feelings. 
    a. True
    b. False
  2. The word averse means ___________.
    a. Strongly opposed to
    b. A strong dislike
    c. An active feeling of repugnance
    d. All of the above
  3. The word adverse means __________. 
    a. A strong feeling of dislike
    b. Opposes one’s interests
    c. Harmful
    d. B and C
  4. The word ____________ often follows the word effect in a sentence. 
    a. Adverse
    b. Averse
    c. Adversity
    d. Adverseness 
  5. Which of the following phrases are incorrect? 
    a. “Adverse situations”
    b. “Adverse trends”
    c “An averse force of nature”
    d. “Trend-averse”

    Choose the correct word or phrase for the following sentences: 

  6. “Poor habits such as gambling or smoking are known to cause _____________ for human health.”
    a. “Averse effects”
    b. “Adverse affects”
    c. “Adverse effects”
    d. “Averse affects”
  7. “Many of the _____________ included movie spoilers, angering many fans of the Star Wars franchise.” 
    a. “Adverse reviews”
    b. “Averse reviews”
    c. “Adversity reviews”
    d. B or C
  8. “Investors are more likely to be _____________ after witnessing the _____________ impact of cryptocurrency hytersia.”
    a. Risk-adverse, averse
    b. Risk averse, averse
    c. Risk-averse, adverse
    d. Risk adverse, adverse
  9. “The student displayed how they are _____________ to engaging in their daily lesson or interactive exercise.” 
    a. Advers
    b. Averse
    c. Avers
    d. Adverse

    Bonus Questions: 

  10. True or false?: “Opposite direction” is the archaic adjective meaning of adverse.
    a. True
    b. False
  11. Adverse, averse, and adversity stem from which Latin word? 
    a. -verse
    b. Ad- 
    c. Advertere
    d. None of the above


  1. B
  2. D
  3. D
  4. A
  5. C
  6. C
  7. A
  8. C
  9. B
  10. A
  11.  D


  1. Adverse.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2021. 
  2. Adverse.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  3. Adverse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Thesaraus, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2021.
  4. Adversity.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  5. Averse.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2021. 
  6. Averse.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  7. Averse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2021.
  8. Brantley, B. “‘Yen’ Is a Den of Family Dysfunction.” The New York Times, nytimes.com, 31 Jan 2017.
  9. Castillo, J. “Clayton Kershaw marks Juneteenth, reiterates he wants to help fight racial injustice.” Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, 19 Jun 2021.
  10. Chon, G. “Capitalism will be the villain of 2020 U.S. elections.” Reuters, reuters.com, 26 Jun 2019.
  11. Feigen, J. “Inside the Rockets’ front office: How Houston works ahead of No. 2 pick in draft.” Houston Chronicle, houstonchronicle.com, 25 Jun 2021. 
  12. Greene, S., and V. Martinez. “COVID-19 vaccine safety: Side effects, risks, reactions.” Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, 6 Apr 2021. 
  13. McDonald, S. “James Cameron Talks Hollywood then, Vs. Hollywood Now.” Latino Review Media Online, lrmonline.com, 27 Nov 2017.
  14. Montana fire aircraft return to duty after helicopter crash.” Helena Independent Record, helenair.com, 18 Jun 2021.  
  15. Odisha, West Bengal Set to Welcome Monsoon 2021 With Intense Rain Spell This Weekend.” The Weather Channel, weather.com, 7 Jun 2021.
  16. Simon Birmingham urges China to respect ‘spirit’ of new Asian trade pact.” The Guardian, theguardian.com, 14 Nov 2020. 
  17. Tsipis, K. “Can Wind Turbines Make You Sick?NOVA, pbs.org, 27 Jun 2018.