Drier vs. Dryer: What’s The Difference?

One of the most puzzling parts of the English language is homophones. Words that sound the same but are spelled differently can confuse even the smartest of people. Sometimes it is helpful to stop and think about which word to use and why according to the context. The last thing you want is to sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. It is difficult to know when to use each word since they are so similar in spelling and identical in the way they are said. Let’s look at the examples drier vs. dryer and their meanings.

Your writing, at its best

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

Definition of Drier

The word drier is a comparative adjective. It is used to describe something that is not as wet as something else. If you are discussing the weather, this would be the correct word to use. Drier comes from the word dry which is defined as, “free from moisture or liquid, not wet or moist.”

An “ier” ending is common for words with the “er” suffix ending in “-y” in English. Something that is the most dry can be called the “driest.”

History and Origin of the Word

Another great way to better understand a word and its meaning is to explore the history of the word and where it originated. This is better known as the etymology of a word. The word drier is from the late 15th century and meant the same thing that it means in the present day. Before this though, drier was a surname in the 14th century. 

Synonyms for Drier from a Thesaurus

One of the best ways to really cement a word into your memory is to learn its synonyms; words with similar meanings make it easy to remember how to properly use a word.  Here are some basic synonyms for drier:

  • Withered means “shrunken or wrinkled from age or disease.”
  • Shriveled means “wrinkled and contracted, especially due to loss of moisture.”
  • Parched is defined as, “dried out with heat, or extremely thirsty.”

Example Sentences of Drier in Context

Another good way to learn a word and apply it to your own vocabulary is to hear it used properly.  Reading it or hearing a word used in its correct context is a great way to learn how to use it yourself.  Here are some common examples of the word drier in context: 

  • The rivers are often drier on the eastern coast thanks to drier air.
  • Generally, cacti grow in drier climates such as deserts. 
  • House fires and wildfires are more common in drier climates. 
  • I need to hang up my clothes longer so that they get drier.

Definition of Dryer

The word dryer is defined in the English dictionary as, “a machine or device for drying something, especially the hair or laundry.” Or, “something that extracts or absorbs moisture.” This can refer to someone or something. The two most common appliances that dry things are a hairdryer, a hand dryer, and a household appliance known as a clothes dryer. Most dryers remove water through evaporation with heat and moving of air or a tumbling motion, when it comes to a clothes tumble dryer. 

History and Origin of the Word

The word dry comes from the Middle English “drye” and the word “drygran”. According to Etymonline, “Meaning “barren” is mid-14c. Of persons, “showing no emotion,” c. 1200; of humor or jests, “without show of pleasantry, caustic, sarcastic” early 15c. (implied in dryly). Sense of “uninteresting, tedious” is from the 1620s. Of wines, brandy, etc., “free from sweetness or fruity flavor,” 1700. Of places prohibiting alcoholic drink, 1870 (dry feast, one at which no liquor is served, is from late 15c.); colloquial dry (n.) “prohibitionist” is by 1888, American English political slang.”

This version of the word is also used as an adjective for things like dry food, dry land, or dry ice. 

The first dryer was invented in the 1800s by a Frenchman named Pochon who invented a vented-barrel-shaped drum to dry clothes. In 1915, the electric dryer was introduced and in 1938 a manufacturing company produced the first automatic dryer. Throughout the 1960s the cost of a dryer was out of reach for most people, which made it a luxury item.

Synonyms for Dryer from a Thesaurus

As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to really cement a word into your memory is to learn its synonyms; unfortunately for this version of the word dryer, there are not really any similar words because it is such a specific word. A dryer is the only word for something that can dry another thing. There are synonyms for the word “dry” by itself, meaning not wet, but none for dryer. 

Example Sentences of Dryer in Context

It may be helpful to look at some examples of the word of the day dryer used in a sentence so you are more comfortable with its meaning and usage. 

  • We bought a new dryer today that has over ten different settings.
  • She used the dryer on her hair so that it would not be wet when she left.
  • When looking for an apartment, you may want to check if they have in-unit washers and dryers. 

In Summary

Words that are pronounced the same are the easiest to confuse with each other. This is because conversationally, you’d never know the difference. But, for reading and writing, it is imperative to understand the two different words and when to use them. Learning English words is always a struggle because it borrows from so many other languages that it ends up being a melting pot of words. 

At the end of the day, these words are not that different. They both come from the word dry, but they are used for different things. Both drier and dryer have to do with a lack of moisture or wetness. However, drier is an adjective and dryer is a noun.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you are more comfortable knowing the differences between dryer and drier and when to use each word appropriately.