Some people fail to realize adverse and averse are separate words. The pair sound so similar that people hear one and assume there isn’t another word with a different meaning. While the words share a similar sort of connotation, their usages are quite distinct.
Adverse: unfortunate, in opposition to, preventing success, harmful. Adverse refers to things or effects. Generally, harmful could be swapped out with adverse.
Averse: feeling a strong dislike or opposition to something. Averse refers to how people feel about something.
Their Usage And Some Examples
✔ The adverse weather prevented us from completing construction on the bridge on time.
—Harmful weather is preventing success, so adverse is right.
𝗫 I am adverse to dancing in the rain.
—This usage is wrong because the speaker is trying to describe how they feel about an activity.
✔ I am averse to waiting in long lines at the airport.
—This usage is right because averse describes how someone feels about waiting in long lines at the airport.
𝗫 The averse effects of the study proved that the new medicine should not be used.
—This usage is wrong because averse is referring to a thing (effects) and not how someone feels.
The etymology behind this pair of commonly confused words is somewhat boring. Essentially, their original meanings have undergone very, very little change.
Adverse: The meaning is more or less the same. It used to mean “contrary, opposing.”
Averse: Again, the original meaning is very similar to the modern meaning. The idea of “turning away from” was the main meaning of averse.