English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a sentence that runs, "My sense of reassurance was wareful." Is this word archaic? Should I use wary instead? Or is the meaning of the sentence just plain ambiguous to begin with?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by MετάEd, Daniel, Matt E. Эллен, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, Mitch Oct 10 '12 at 14:49

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

How can your sense of anything have another emotion? Is it animate? "I was wary" sounds much clearer. – Charles Jul 26 '12 at 21:45
Did you try looking it up? See the FAQ. – MετάEd Jul 26 '12 at 21:47
I'd call the sentence wrong, rather than ambiguous, even if you use a more common word in place of wareful. – jwpat7 Jul 26 '12 at 21:58
@Charles Thanks Charles for your comment. That was like a frying pan over the head. The sentence is illogical. However, your suggestion does not quite convey my meaning either. Something like this works best I think: "I was feeling reassured, but not without some reservations/skepticism." – DAWR Jul 27 '12 at 20:38
@DAWR That is very clear! Much better! – Charles Jul 29 '12 at 15:46

to answer the first question, dictionary.com says:

Ware"ful\, a. Wary; watchful; cautious. [Obs.]

Note the [Obs.], which means Obsolete. So yes, it's not used these days. (I consider myself pretty well-educated and I've never encountered the word before.)

In reading your sentence, even after checking the dictionary, I'm still not sure what you're trying to convey, so I'd say it's confusing. Perhaps you mean something like

I was not feeling reassured at all.


I felt a bit reassured, but overall I was still very wary.

share|improve this answer
I don't believe the Dictionary.com entry. Not a single occurrence in the Google Ngram corpus. – MετάEd Jul 26 '12 at 21:49
@MetaEd The OED says it is now only poetic, and gives this citation: 1937 G. Frankau More of Us xv. 160 ― “Slow went his feet, and wareful As federal agent’s in some gangster joint.” – tchrist Jul 26 '12 at 21:53
@MetaEd, ngrams/info says "We only consider ngrams that occur in at least 40 books" in reply to antepenultimate question. Note, google Books shows 7 items, but I imagine 5 or 6 of them are irrelevant. – jwpat7 Jul 26 '12 at 22:04
@tchrist Sure. But I bet Frankau carried a poetic license. – MετάEd Jul 26 '12 at 22:08
@MetaEd Given that he was British, I’d say he was more likely to have carried a poetic licence. – tchrist Jul 26 '12 at 22:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.