The adjectives “adverse and “averse” are often confused.  “Adverse” often describes a thing contrary or opposed to what someone wants or plans (“adverse weather,” “adverse circumstances,”  “adverse consequences,” “adverse ruling”). “Adverse” also means “producing harmful effects,” as in “an adverse reaction to a medication.”

On the other hand, “averse” describes a person being opposed to something. It is often followed by the preposition “to.”


“Adverse” and “averse” have related meanings and similar spellings, but they are not at all interchangeable. “Averse” describes a person having a negative or oppositional attitude. “Adverse,” however, describes a thing that opposes what someone wants.

Possible Errors

It would be considered an error to say that you are “adverse to” something.  Also, “averse” is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable (a-VERSE), whereas “adverse” is generally pronounced with the stress on its first syllable (AD-verse).  Remembering this typical difference in pronunciation might help to distinguish these two words.

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