Professional Style

Adverse vs. Averse

April 2012
Spot the Error

Christina wanted to eat either Mexican or Indian food; however, because Jack’s stomach was unsettled, he was adverse to eating spicy food.

Adverse vs. averse … one little “d” … two totally different words. Unfortunately, people sometimes miss the difference. The word adverse most commonly means harmful or unfavorable. It typically describes a condition: adverse weather, adverse reaction, adverse effect. Averse, on the other hand, means disinclined, reluctant, loath. In the “food” sentence above, Jack is disinclined to eat spicy food, so the appropriate word is averse.

Although the words are similar, one applies to people and their feelings while the other describes a condition. To keep them straight, just remember that there is no “d” in feeling or averse, but there is in condition and adverse.

Don’t be averse to fine-tuning your language skills.

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