fester

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

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

The conflict with Catalonia has been festering ever since, with a regional election on Dec. 21, 2017, showing that the 7.5 million residents of Catalonia remain divided by the secession question. Aritz Parra, The Seattle Times, "Spain’s courts put to test by trial of Catalan separatists," 11 Feb. 2019 Minimalist answers like the border wall also may represent the future—a conscious act of self-delusion that sates the emotional needs of contemporary politics but lets the realities fester. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Gridlock Is the New Normal," 16 Jan. 2019 The way the Sheriff’s Office handles internal-affairs probes became a festering concern within the department in recent years that ultimately spilled over publicly during last year’s campaign for sheriff. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Complaints against King County deputies weren’t investigated because they were misclassified, report finds," 11 July 2018 The festering revolt on the question of sanctuary policies points to a broader dynamic that could shape elections across the country. Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, "Orange County Fights Turning Blue. And the Resistance Is Formidable.," 8 June 2018 Often, the emotion underlying competition is envy, which can fester and create resentments in a relationship. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, "When You Can’t Stop Competing With Your Spouse," 30 July 2018 For vog to form, sulfur dioxide gas needs to be festering in sunlight with oxygen, moisture and these other compounds. Angela Fritz, Washington Post, "Harmful acid rain in Hawaii? Probably not. The clouds of sulfur dioxide are much worse.," 10 May 2018 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

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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Statistics for fester

Last Updated

6 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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.

fester

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

Medical Definition of fester

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

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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