Adverse vs. Averse: What’s the Difference?

Most people confuse adverse vs. averse. However, they have two completely unique definitions, despite having almost identical pronunciations and being both adjectives. Adverse is a negative effect, whereas averse is disliking something. 

In this article, we will discuss the definition, the differences, English usage, and an easy guideline for remembering which word to use. 

What is Adverse?

Adverse is a word that comes from Anglo-French and Latin roots in the English language. It originates from the Latin word adversus, which means turned toward or toward against. 

In modern English, adverse refers to a negative or detrimental effect on something. The term is rarely used to describe people, but rather events or effects and usually implies hostility or harm. For instance, “adverse” conditions apply to circumstances and things like bad weather, a computer crash, and adverse trends, not people. 

Fun Fact: The word “adverse” is an adjective that typically appears before a noun. In some cases, you will find the word effects after “adverse.”

The following sentences can give you a better idea of how the word “adverse” is used in writing and conversations. 


  1. The adverse effects of cancer treatments can make many families consider their options.
  2. Linda had an adverse reaction to the medication she was taking. 
  3. The adverse weather increases the risk of driving.
  4. Experts found that vibrations emitted from windmills have no adverse effect on birds and humans.
  5. There are no findings to suggest that it has adverse effect on human health.
  6. She overcame her adverse circumstances to become a college degree holder. 

What is Averse?

Unlike adverse, the word “averse” implies disliking something. For instance, “He is averse to exercise.” This word, however, can also mean to oppose something. Both definitions often have the word “to” after. 

Fun Fact: Averse derives from the Latin word avertere, which refers to turn away. It also stems from the Middle French word avertir, which means feelings of dislike, repugnant, or disgust. 


  1. There was no sign of the child being averse to chores or cleaning.
  2. Spoil people are averse to receiving criticism.
  3. The doctor was not averse to standing up for his diagnosis in the face of a challenge.
  4. Voters are averse to knowing the truth about certain candidates.
  5. Ryan is not averse to saying no when asked to do his chores.
  6. Working from home for two years due to Covid restrictions made her even more averse to joining a group of people face-to-face. 
  7. He is not averse to interactive exercises. 

What Is the Difference Between Adverse and Averse?

photo showing the definition of adverse and averse

Aside from the spelling, the main difference between the two is their meanings. Adverse describes negative situations, while averse is associated with a person’s attitude.

For example: “Rainstorms can create adverse weather conditions, and some people are averse to wet conditions.”

Tip: The words are not homophones since they have different pronunciations. 

Trick to Remembering the Difference

With only one letter, “d,” separating them, adverse vs. averse can confuse many. So, how do you remember the difference? Here’s a simple guide: 

You use adverse when describing unfavorable circumstances and things, whereas averse refers to how someone feels a strong dislike.

Both adjectives imply opposition to disfavor or thing. However, each has a context that makes sense. 

Adverse is used in a descriptive sense more often. The most common words it modifies are impact, reaction, and effect. On the other hand, “averse” is a feeling, which means you can’t use it for an inanimate object. 

Fun Fact You can use the words “adverse” and “averse” in the same sentence. For instance: “Larry is averse to the notion that cold weather has adverse effects.”

If you’re still mastering the differences, remember that you can always opt for synonyms instead. 

Adverse Synonyms: 

  • Harmful
  • Bad 
  • Negative
  • Unhealthy
  • Damaging
  • Destructive 

Averse Synonyms: 

  • Unwilling 
  • Disinclination
  • Resistant 
  • Hostile 
  • Distaste
  • Indisposed


Adverse vs. averse can easily be confused, and it is unlikely that you will even notice if someone confuses them in conversation. In writing, however, keeping them straight is essential to ensure correct English grammar and usage. 

A good advice to remember is that adverse means an unfavorable reaction or a harmful effect, while averse refers to a strong feeling of dislike or repu

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