Adverse or Averse?

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between "adverse" and "averse"?
  • "Adverse" means hostile.
  • "Averse" means unwilling.


The adjective "adverse" means antagonistic, opposing, harmful, hostile, or unfavorable (unfavourable ).

  • Adverse conditions including rain, snow, ice and fog affect your visibility.
  • He is not responsible for the adverse events in your life.


The adjective "averse" means strongly disinclined, unwilling, or loath. (Most often, it refers to people.)

  • Are you averse to hunting?
  • The company staff are averse to change.
adverse averse

Synonyms of "Adverse"

The most commonly used synonyms for "adverse" are hostile, unfavourable, and harmful. Here are some examples of "adverse" aligned to those synonyms in sentences:
  • Hostile. They endured adverse weather conditions.
  • Unfavorable. Your decision will have an adverse impact.
  • Harmful. Strong coffee has an adverse effect on me.

Synonyms of "Averse"

Three common synonyms of "averse" are disinclined, unwilling, loath. These carry different strengths of negativity. Here are some examples in sentences:
  • Disinclined. I am averse to swimming in the bay.
  • (Averse is not always a strong idea. It can imply hesitancy due to uncertainty.)
  • Unwilling. She is averse to meeting you again.
  • (Averse can imply a reluctance.)
  • Loath. I am averse to working with that clown.
  • (Averse can imply repugnance.)

A Video Summary

Here is a 2-minute video summarizing the difference between adverse and averse.

Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? loath or loathe material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are adjectives? List of easily confused words