Posted by: Jack Henry | September 13, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Adverse or Averse?

Adverse and averse are an especially tricky word pair. Not only are they just one letter apart; they also both suggest negative feelings towards something.

Here are Merriam-Webster’s definitions for adverse and averse:

  • adverse: acting against or in a contrary direction; opposed to one’s interests; harmful
  • averse: having an active feeling of repugnance, dislike, or distaste

Here are some mnemonics to help you remember the difference between adverse and averse, along with some examples from recent newspaper headlines.

Tip: Adverse and bad both contain the letter D. If something is adverse, it is bad.

“Why an adverse drug reaction needs to be reported immediately” (Standard Digital). An adverse reaction is a bad reaction.

“Adverse weather, fruit fly attacks hit mango production this season” (Times of India). Adverse weather is bad weather.

Tip: Averse and avoid both start with av-. If you’re avoiding something, you are averse to it.

“Help your budget-averse college student” (Post-Bulletin). College students avoid budgets. They are budget-averse.

“Averse to owning? Auto subscription services bundle car, insurance, maintenance” (Insurance Journal). Are you avoiding owning a car? You are averse to owning.

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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