Adverse or Averse?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Adverse" and "Averse"?

"Adverse" and "averse" are easy to confuse because they sound so similar.
  • "Adverse" means hostile. For example:
    • I cannot operate in such adverse conditions.
    • (Here, "adverse" means hostile.)
  • "Averse" is used with "to." It means against or unwilling to. For example:
    • Sarah has always been averse to smoking.
    • (Here, "averse to" means against. Note that "averse" is always used with "to.")
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."

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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? bear or bare (witness, the brunt, fruit)? who's or whose? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words

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