My understanding I formed from dictionaries is the following:
to wear someone down/out = to make someone feel extremely tired
wearisome = making someone feel tired or bored

Hence, despite the same root "wear", the verb "to wear someone down/out" means far more tiredness than the adjective "wearisome". Am I right?

My examples (if need be):
(1) The work wore me down/out.
(2) The work was wearisome.

  • 2
    To 'wear someone down' can very often mean to reduce or (figuratively) abrade someones's resistance by using repeated requests to make them so tired of hearing about it, or bored, that they agree to something that they weren't inclined to at first. E.g. My father wasn't ging to let me go camping with my girlfriend, but in the end I wore him down. It's different from 'wearing out'. Commented Apr 3 at 7:51
  • 3
    Weary doesn't come from the root "wear". "Weary" is from Proto-Germanic *worigaz, "to wander or totter", of unknown origin (also source of a German word for intoxicated, and with the extended sense of tired, sad, miserable in Old English). "Wear" is from Proto-Germanic *wasīn-, "to clothe", ultimately from PIE (with a secondary sense to wear out as clothes do).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 3 at 9:17
  • There is also the figurative use You wear me out that can mean "You wear my patience thin" or "You exasperate me".
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 3 at 13:59
  • Note, in "I'm feeling worn down", it's pretty much interchangeable with "worn out." But the phrase "wear [someone] down" is specifically about repeated argument. Also, beware (heh) of the frequent confusion between "weary" and "wary." Commented Apr 3 at 14:55
  • The verb to wear is not the same root as weary/wearisome. They aren't etymologically related. The similarity is coincidental.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Apr 4 at 12:26

2 Answers 2



Tiredness is not implicit in either phrase but for some complex reasons.

First, weary and tired are not exact synonyms. While weary can mean very tired, it can also mean bored through overexposure or lack of enthusiasm or energy (through tiredness or otherwise). Also, while tired on its own means needing rest, one can be "tired of" something, which means boredom with that thing.

Second, wearisome can make someone weary in either sense. Something can be wearisome because it makes you tired, or it can be wearisome because it's boring, repetitive, or just something the particular person is bored with, even if it might be exciting to others.

Finally, wear is unrelated to weariness other than having the same Old English root word werian. To wear something out/down is to cause it to lose utility through repetitive use. So a mountain can be worn down by wind and rain, and a car can be worn out through long use. A person can be worn out physically or emotionally.

If it's physical, it can mean they are tired or weary. This would normally be used for short-term tiredness that can be cured by sleep - "My gym workout wore me out". But it can also be used for long-term wearing out that cannot be easily cured - "Years of tennis wore out her knees". If used in that longer-term meaning, no tiredness is involved - her knees are shot, but she's not sleepy.

It can also mean an emotional wearing out/down, as in children whining to a parent for ice cream until the father capitulates just to make it stop. This is also wearisome while it happens.



The extra "out" describes a greater degree of tiredness compared to "standard" tired. This is similar to the differences of "worried" and "worried sick"

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