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adverse, adverse to, averse to

Although these words sound alike, they are not synonyms.

Adverse and adverse to refer to a thing or circumstance that is contrary, against or not in one’s favour.

  • The adverse (contrary) wind delayed the sailors’ arrival.
  • The mercenary felt the capital punishment law was adverse to (did not favour) his profession and his longevity.

Averse to reflects a person’s dislike of or inclination against an activity or situation.

  • She rarely listened to the news because she was averse to hearing about conflict and bloodshed.
  • Brad is not averse to manual labour.

It is a common error to use adverse to when averse to would be the correct choice.

  • Incorrect: Extroverts are not adverse to being the centre of attention.
  • Correct: Extroverts are not averse to being the centre of attention.