adverse / averse

The word adverse refers to something that is opposing – it goes against what you want, and is often unfavorable, harmful or challenging.

  • Heavy rain, high winds, or icy roads are adverse weather conditions (because they interfere with the operation of normal life and transportation).
  • If a medicine makes the patient’s health get worse, not better, it is having an adverse effect.
  • If a decision has adverse consequences, it means that the results are opposite from what you wanted.

    Some people pronounce this word AD – verse, and others pronounce it ad – VERSE.

    We often use the noun form, adversity, for difficult conditions. Someone who grew up in a very poor family and later became very financially successful has overcome


    While the word adverse describes a situation, the word averse describes people, and it means the person is not willing to do something:

  • If your parents want everything to stay the same, they are averse to change.
  • Someone who doesn’t think it’s a good idea to invest money in the stock market is averse to risk.

    The noun form is aversion, and it also refers to a strong dislike or unwillingness to do something. If you have an aversion to broccoli, it means you really don’t like broccoli and are not likely to eat it.