fes·​ter | \ ˈfe-stər How to pronounce fester (audio) \
festered; festering\ ˈfe-​st(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce fester (audio) \

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



Definition of fester (Entry 2 of 2)

: a suppurating sore : pustule

Synonyms for fester

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Did you know?

Fester comes from Latin fistula, meaning "pipe" or "fistulous ulcer." Fistula, in English, refers to an abnormal passage leading from an abscess or hollow organ and permitting passage of fluids or secretions. The word's use as a verb meaning "to generate pus" influenced its use as a word 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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This gap and others allow contaminants to fester in schools across the state. Lulu Ramadan, ProPublica, 14 Mar. 2022 Such wild fluctuations leave the country rudderless and allow problems to fester. Michael Bobelian, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2022 Because various practitioners sit on such polarized sides of the spectrum, stigma continues to fester. Amanda Reiman, Rolling Stone, 2 Feb. 2022 Analysts expect the country could struggle even more this year, as the world's second largest economy tries to stave off coronavirus outbreaks with its strict zero-Covid policy, and as the property crisis continues to fester. Laura He, CNN, 19 Jan. 2022 Hate can quickly fester and grow, and even one incident can be a warning sign of a larger problem. San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Feb. 2022 It has been given a lot of room to fester and mutate into new variants as vaccination rates across the world remain low. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, 17 Feb. 2022 But The Humans draws its most potent tension from the way that each of the Blakes tries to suppress their dread, leaving it to fester and then emerge in cruel behavior. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 1 Dec. 2021 On the contrary, that problem can fester while the victorious (but ideologically incoherent) coalition attempts to govern, opening a path to a return to power for the right-wing populists the next time elections are held. Damon Linker, The Week, 15 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of fester


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fester


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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near fester

festal letter



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Statistics for fester

Last Updated

21 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fester.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fester. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fester


fes·​ter | \ ˈfe-stər How to pronounce fester (audio) \
festered; festering

Kids Definition of fester

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


fes·​ter | \ ˈfes-tər How to pronounce fester (audio) \

Medical Definition of fester

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a suppurating sore : pustule


intransitive verb
festered; festering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce fester (audio) \

Medical Definition of fester (Entry 2 of 2)

: to generate pus

More from Merriam-Webster on fester

Nglish: Translation of fester for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fester for Arabic Speakers


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