Difference between Adverse and Averse

Key Difference: Adverse refers to something that is harmful or unfavorable. An adverse object prevents success and development. It refers to something that acts against what is wanted or desired. Averse, on the other hand, refers to a negative feeling. To be averse to something, means to hate or at least dislike it.

The two terms, ‘adverse’ and ‘averse’ are often confused. This is mainly because the two terms are homophones, which are words that that have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Adverse refers to something that is harmful or unfavorable. An adverse object prevents success and development. It refers to something that acts against what is wanted or desired. Think of medicine that has negative side effects, these side effects are harmful and are opposite to what the medicine wants to achieve, which is to make the person better. Hence, these side effects are often called adverse effects.

Averse, on the other hand, refers to a negative feeling. To be averse to something, means to hate or at least dislike it. Averse can refer to being "antipathetic to new ideas"; "averse to taking risks"; "loath to go on such short notice"; "clearly indisposed to grant their request", etc. For example: I am averse to speaking in public. Here the sentence claims that the speaker hate or loathes speaking in public.

 A major difference between the terms is the fact that ‘adverse’ usually refers to an act or an object that is bad or unfavorable, whereas ‘averse’ refers to people and their feeling regarding something.

In order to differentiate between the two, keep in find the following sentence: I am averse to adverse effects of objects. Here the sentence shows, that I am averse, i.e. I dislike or hate the adverse effects of objects, i.e. the negative and harmful effects of the object. Also keep in mind that averse is often followed by to, for example, I am averse to… However it does not necessarily have to.

Comparison between Adverse and Averse:

 

Adverse

Averse

Definition (Merriam-Webster)

Acting against or in a contrary direction

Opposed to one's interests

Causing harm

Having an active feeling of repugnance or distaste —usually used with to

Parts of Speech

Adjective

Adjective

Examples

  • The adverse publicity really caused the movie popularity to drop.
  • The drug has too many adverse effects.
  • The writer could not handle the adverse criticism.
  •  
  • I’m averse to eating meat.
  • As a former dancer, she is not averse to showing off.
  • He is not averse to having a drink now and then.
  • He performed well even in adverse conditions.

Image Courtesy: froshvocab.pbworks.com, newproductvisions.com

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