As a non native speaker, I thought that the words world weary referred to someone who carries the world on his/her shoulder or someone who wears/puts on the world. Then I noticed that the word weary has a different meaning. Is there any relationship between wear and weary in this context? Is there anyone who is able to explain the etymology of this phrase?
I always thought the usage world-weary was derived from the story of Atlas. Atlas is described as Atlas Telamon (Atlas the Enduring) and also as "The world-weary Atlas" when Hercules encounters him during his quest for The Apples of the Hesperides.(I couldn't find the Homeric greek for "the world-weary Atlas.")
Though the words look similar, they are not related in the way you'd thought. Their pronunciations are different, too.
To wear is pronounced [wair] and is derived from O.E. werian, meaning "to clothe, put on".
Weary is pronounced [weer-ee] and comes from O.E. werig, meaning "tired".
World-weary has nothing to do, literally, with the act of wearing or carrying anything; as a mnemonic device, though, that may be a helpful way to think of it.
In the words of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), ‘world-weary’ means ‘Weary of the world; feeling or indicating feelings of weariness, boredom, or cynicism as a result of long experience of life.’ Its first recorded use is in 1750.
The ‘weary’ element takes its sense from the OED’s second main definition of the adjective: ‘Discontented at the continuance or continued recurrence of something, and desiring its cessation; having one's patience, tolerance, zeal, or energy exhausted; “sick and tired” of something.’