fester

1 of 2

verb

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

intransitive verb

1
: to generate pus
The wound became inflamed and festered.
2
: putrefy, rot
festering carrion
3
a
: 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

2 of 2

noun

: a suppurating sore : pustule

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
Mayes established her elder affairs unit and hired an investigator last summer to crack down on problems that have festered under previous administrations. Caitlin McGlade, The Arizona Republic, 28 Feb. 2024 Now in 2023, after the problems have festered for years, Beijing seems unable to muster a forceful enough program to deal with the matter. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 Egypt since 2011 has vacillated between the Muslim Brotherhood and military dictatorship, all the while beset by a festering economic crisis. Seth Cropsey, National Review, 10 Feb. 2024 As police detective Sean (Kevin Bacon) investigates, and Dave (Tim Robbins) emerges as the prime suspect, the neo-noir thriller cuts across the conventional whodunit and explores the depths of decades-long festered trauma resurfacing in the present. EW.com, 18 Jan. 2024 Without those, even simple injuries can fester and the limb may need to be amputated. Mithil Aggarwal, NBC News, 18 Jan. 2024 If negative emotions are allowed to fester, or uncomfortable situations are left unaddressed, then the chances are that rebalancing any relationship will become more difficult or even impossible to do. Fiona Simpson, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 Those festering secrets are now out in the open and ready to tear the town apart. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 History is rife with examples of antisemitism being allowed to fester and only becoming more violent with time. The Editors, National Review, 31 Oct. 2023
Noun
Will the United States, for vile political reasons, let the conflict fester and encourage authoritarian and anti-American forces throughout Europe? Bernard-Henri Lévy, The Mercury News, 2 Jan. 2024 This need to let the uncomfortableness fester and relish the minutia has long been part of Safdie’s career ethos. Whitney Friedlander, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2023 The rage festers and we are left under a pile of loneliness and debilitating shame. Petal Modeste, Parents, 25 Sep. 2023 Loss that isn’t acknowledged can curdle into something else — cynicism, for instance, or the kind of resentment that festers into a hateful rage. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2023 Related Articles Clarity offered on Jimmy Butler’s Heat absence, ‘This shouldn’t be a long-term or lingering issue’ Center Kevin Love said the Heat cannot allow the loss to fester after losing to a Suns team lacking sidelined Kevin Durant and Eric Gordon. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 7 Jan. 2024 The October 7 attacks also demonstrated the danger of letting unbridled incitement fester, and in an environment in which frustration with the PA across the region was already high, there has never been a more auspicious moment to push for genuine PA reforms. TIME, 3 Jan. 2024 Those on both the political right and left have generated the conditions allowing such feelings to fester. Rick Wartzman, Fortune, 14 Dec. 2023 There was little food or hygiene, and no way to change patients’ bandages, allowing wounds to fester. Loay Ayyoub, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fester.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near fester

Cite this Entry

“Fester.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fester. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

fester

1 of 2 noun
fes·​ter ˈfes-tər How to pronounce fester (audio)
: a pus-filled sore

fester

2 of 2 verb
festered; festering -t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce fester (audio)
1
: to form pus
2
3
: to grow or cause to grow increasingly more irritating
let her jealousy fester

Medical Definition

fester

1 of 2 noun
fes·​ter ˈfes-tər How to pronounce fester (audio)
: a suppurating sore : pustule

fester

2 of 2 intransitive verb
festered; festering -t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce fester (audio)
: to generate pus

More from Merriam-Webster on fester

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!