‘Drier' or 'Dryer': What's the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 17, 2023

Wondering what the difference is between 'drier' or 'dryer'? Look no further; this article will tell you everything you need to know.

In short, the spellings 'drier' and 'dryer' are interchangeable and mean the same thing.

'Drier' or 'Dryer': What's the Difference?

Though some sources say that 'drier' and 'dryer' are homophones, that is incorrect. All you have to do is check out reputable dictionaries to see that both terms are interchangeable. And most don't show any preference for a particular spelling.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary, for example, lists' drier' as an alternative spelling to 'dryer.' It also lists 'dryer' as an alternative spelling of 'drier.' So does the Collins Dictionary. The Cambridge Dictionary seems to prefer the spelling 'dryer' since its listing for 'drier' simply refers back to the definition of 'dryer.'

It's safe to say that both spellings are entirely acceptable, no matter which country you're based in or writing for. That's why I'll pick one spelling and use that for the rest of this article for the sake of clarity. But remember that they are both interchangeable.

Let's find out what the word means.

What Does 'Dryer' Mean?

The word 'dryer' comes from Old English "drygan," meaning "make dry, free from water or moisture of any kind."

It can mean one of three things. Its first definition is as a comparative adjective. Something that is 'dryer' is less wet than its previous state or something else.

The word's second meaning is a noun that refers to a device that dries items. For example, a tumble dryer dries clothes, and a hair dryer dries hair.

The third and final meaning is slightly less common since it's pretty niche. It's also a noun, and it's used in chemical engineering contexts and refers to a substance that makes surfaces dry quicker when they've been covered with oil, paint, or ink, for example.

Now let's find out how to pronounce the word.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Dryer'

The International Phonetics Alphabet spells the word like this:


And this is how it's pronounced:


When to Use 'Dryer'

Now that you're clear on the meaning of the word, when to use it and how to say it, we'll take a look at some example sentences so that you can better understand how to use the word in context.

I've hung up all of our washing since the tumble dryer is broken.

I'm going to use the dryer on my canvas as it needs to go to the gallery ASAP.

Here, borrow my hair dryer. It's too cold to go outside with wet hair.

His mouth felt dryer with every minute he spent in that desert; he couldn't understand how the cacti survived.

The weather feels a lot dryer this week than it did last week.

Concluding Thoughts on 'Drier' or 'Dryer'

So as you can see, both 'drier' or 'dryer' can be used interchangeably. The two words have the same meaning, and both spellings are acceptable. Just make sure to use the word in the proper context so that it makes sense.

To check out more commonly confused words, head to our blog.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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