fester

verb
fes·​ter | \ ˈfe-stər \
festered; festering\ ˈfe-​st(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of fester

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to generate pus The wound became inflamed and festered.
2 : putrefy, rot festering carrion
3a : to cause increasing poisoning, irritation, or bitterness : rankle dissent festered unchecked His resentment festered for years.
b : to undergo or exist in a state of progressive deterioration allowed slums to fester

transitive verb

: to make inflamed or corrupt

fester

noun

Definition of fester (Entry 2 of 2)

: a suppurating sore : pustule

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Synonyms for fester

Synonyms: Verb

break down, corrupt, decay, decompose, disintegrate, foul, mold, molder, perish [chiefly British], putrefy, rot, spoil

Synonyms: Noun

boil, hickey, papule, pimple, pock, pustule, whelk, zit [slang]

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Did You Know?

Noun

Fester first entered English as a noun in the early 14th century. It was originally used as we now use the word fistula, for an abnormal passage leading from an abscess or hollow organ and permitting passage of fluids or secretions. It later came to refer to a sore that discharges pus. The connection between "fester" and "fistula" is no accident - both descend from Latin fistula, which has the same meaning as the English word but can also mean "pipe" or "tube" or "a kind of ulcer." "Fester" made the trip from Latin to English by way of Anglo-French. By the end of the 14th century, it was also being used as a verb meaning "to generate pus," a use that has since developed extended senses implying a worsening state.

Examples of fester in a Sentence

Verb

His wounds festered for days before he got medical attention. His feelings of resentment have festered for years. We should deal with these problems now instead of allowing them to fester.

Noun

pus oozed out of the fester
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Damned to subject yourself to physical and public scrutiny, more vulnerability and social repercussions, or damned to allow the residual feelings to fester inside. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "Amandla Stenberg Just Powerfully Opened Up About Her Own Sexual Assault," 6 Oct. 2018 Connecticut has been squandering its resources since the days of Lowell Weicker, letting underfunded pension problems fester, raising taxes and still running large deficits. WSJ, "Nutmeg ‘Moderates’ Can Be Pretty Far Left," 12 Oct. 2018 The potentially life-threatening disease is caused by Legionella bacteria, which may have festered in the city’s pipes after the improper treatment interfered with disinfectants and released bacterial nutrients into the tap water. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Doc charged with involuntary manslaughter in Flint crisis wins top health award," 12 Oct. 2018 The Trump administration says its tariffs are a response to China’s practices that stack the odds against American business—a perception that has festered for years in U.S. trade unions and more recently is taking hold in corporate suites. James T. Areddy, WSJ, "U.S.-China Trade Tensions on Display at Shanghai Expo," 7 Nov. 2018 Allowing these systemic risks to fester will only make a coastal real estate crash more cataclysmic. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Climate change and the coming coastal real estate crash," 16 Oct. 2018 The problem with keeping silent is that hurt feelings fester and grow. Jeanne Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Rescinded vacation invitation causes bad blood in family," 1 June 2018 Political instability festered in mainland France during the war, leading to the 1958 collapse of the Fourth Republic, which had been erected in the wake of France’s liberation from Nazi Germany. Stacy Meichtry, WSJ, "France Acknowledges Torture During Algerian War," 13 Sep. 2018 Fear was the thing that festered and led to things like anger and hatred and resentment. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Morgan Neville on making a movie about Fred Rogers’s “radical kindness”," 8 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fester.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fester

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fester

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French festre, from Latin fistula pipe, fistulous ulcer

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for fester

The first known use of fester was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for fester

fester

verb

English Language Learners Definition of fester

: to become painful and infected

: to become worse as time passes

fester

verb
fes·​ter | \ ˈfe-stər \
festered; festering

Kids Definition of fester

: to become painfully red and sore and usually full of pus The wound festered.

fester

noun
fes·​ter | \ ˈfes-tər \

Medical Definition of fester

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a suppurating sore : pustule
festered; festering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Medical Definition of fester (Entry 2 of 2)

: to generate pus

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More from Merriam-Webster on fester

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fester

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fester

Spanish Central: Translation of fester

Nglish: Translation of fester for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fester for Arabic Speakers

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