Spry mean lively, vigorous, or active, usually said of an elderly person. Spry is an adjective, related words are spryer and spryest. The only correct adverb form is spryly, the only correct noun form is spryness. Interestingly, one may apply the “when following a consonant change the y to an i” rule when spelling sprier and spriest, but not spryly or spryness. To avoid confusion, it may be better to stick with the y spelling in all derivations. Spry arrives in the lexicon in the mid-1700s as a shortening of the word sprightly, to mean active, nimble, vigorous, lively. An influence is assumed from the Old Norse sprækr meaning brisk, active.


Dressed in black trousers, white tuxedo shirts and bow ties, these spry senior ladies spin and shuffle ball change their way through a carefully choreographed number, their tap shoes adding a contagiously happy beat. (The Fort Worth Star Telegram)

It is a process and yes, it gets harder as one gets older and the memory isn’t quite as spry. (The Chicago Tribune)

The first Liberian to cross the finish line, Prince Weah, 24, looked spry and forceful as he glided across, as if he could go another 13 miles. (The New York Times)

Would I bet against McCain, who is much sprier than Goldwater was near the end of his Senate tenure? (The Washington Examiner)

They do it as well, probably not as well as San Antonio did it back in the day when they were younger and sprier, but it’s similar. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Even though he looks older than his 73 years, Governor Robert Bentley may be spryer than he appears. (The Montgomery Advertiser)

Even though he looks older than his 73 years, Gov. Robert Bentley may be spryer than he appears. (The Andalusia Star News)

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