adverse vs. averse  

What is the difference between adverse and averse?

Adverse and averse are both adjectives that have similar—but distinct—pronunciations and meanings.
Adverse (/ædˈvɜrs/ or /ˈædvɜrs/) means “antagonistic, hostile, or inimical; unfavorable or harmful to one’s interests, welfare, or wishes; contrary or in the opposite direction to.” It relates to actions or forces that are external to oneself. For example:
  • “While the new drug has some great potential benefits, it has too many adverse side effects for me to recommend it.”
  • “It is certainly an adverse situation, but I’ll just keep trying my best.”
  • “The adverse current slowed our small boat considerably.”
Averse (/əˈvɜrs/) has the similar meaning of “opposed to or disinclined; having a strong feeling of antipathy, repugnance, or distaste.” Unlike adverse, it is used to describe personal feelings, tendencies, or thoughts, and it is usually followed by the preposition to, as in:
  • “The company is notoriously averse to changing their centuries-old business model.”
  • “I’ve always been averse to the smell of onions, ever since I was a kid.”

Spelling Tricks and Tips

As a quick mnemonic trick, just remember that adverse essentially means bad (both spelled with a D). And, if you are averse to something, you have an aversion to it (both spelled without a D).

1. Choose the sentence in which adverse is the correct spelling.

2. Choose the sentence in which averse is the correct spelling.

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