Adverse or Averse?

by Craig Shrives

Adverse or Averse?

What is the difference between "adverse" and "averse"?
  • "Adverse" means hostile. For example:
    • adverse conditions = hostile conditions
  • "Averse" is used with "to." It means against or unwilling to. For example:
    • averse to smoking = against smoking
adverse averse
Top Tip


The word "averse" is used with "to," but "adverse" is not. So, if you've used the word "to," you need "averse" not "adverse."

More about "Adverse"

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

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

More about "Averse"

"Averse" is used with "to." It means against, strongly disinclined to, unwilling to, or loath to. (Most often, it refers to people.)

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

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, and 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? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? 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