lan·​guish | \ ˈlaŋ-gwish How to pronounce languish (audio) \
languished; languishing; languishes

Definition of languish

intransitive verb

1a : to be or become feeble, weak, or enervated Plants languish in the drought.
b : to be or live in a state of depression or decreasing vitality languished in prison for ten years
2a : to become dispirited
b : to suffer neglect the bill languished in the Senate for eight months
3 : to assume an expression of grief or emotion appealing for sympathy languished at him through screwed-up eyes— Edith Wharton

Other Words from languish

languisher noun
languishingly \ ˈlaŋ-​gwi-​shiŋ-​lē How to pronounce languish (audio) \ adverb
languishment \ ˈlaŋ-​gwish-​mənt How to pronounce languish (audio) \ noun

Examples of languish in a Sentence

older people, especially, were languishing during the prolonged heat wave
Recent Examples on the Web Many proposals languish or are forgotten, especially if they are not deemed a priority. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, 27 July 2022 Tens of thousands of children born to low-income parents languish on the waiting list for subsidized child care. New York Times, 1 July 2022 In Yemen, where warring parties have blocked humanitarian aid, hollow-eyed children and their mothers languish on the brink of death from starvation. Tracy Wilkinsonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2022 And our leaders languish in detention in big numbers. Wanjohi Kabukuru, ajc, 23 June 2022 While consumer spending should keep growing in the months ahead, sales at many stores could languish as the combination of waning Covid-19 concerns and high goods inflation drive a continued shift toward services. Justin Lahart, WSJ, 24 May 2022 Even while bitcoin and crypto exchange traded funds (ETFs) continue to languish under regulatory review, other products and services have raced ahead. Sean Stein Smith, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Hong Kong dissidents continue to languish in prison, and Beijing hopes the world forgets. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 25 Apr. 2022 Rather than languish in Tapachula, some migrants either pay human traffickers, many of whom have links to organized crime, or bribe immigration officials to speed up the process, Mr. García said in a phone interview. New York Times, 11 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of languish

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

History and Etymology for languish

Middle English, from Anglo-French languiss-, stem of languir, from Vulgar Latin *languire, from Latin languēre

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

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Languish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for languish


lan·​guish | \ ˈlaŋ-gwish How to pronounce languish (audio) \
languished; languishing

Kids Definition of languish

1 : to be or become weak, dull, or listless "I don't feel good at all. I think I'm languishing …"— E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
2 : to continue for a long time without activity or progress in an unpleasant or unwanted situation The innocent man languished in prison.

More from Merriam-Webster on languish

Nglish: Translation of languish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of languish for Arabic Speakers


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