lan·guish | \ ˈlaŋ-gwish \
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

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Other words from languish

languisher noun
languishingly \ˈlaŋ-gwi-shiŋ-lē \ adverb
languishment \ˈlaŋ-gwish-mənt \ noun

Examples of languish in a Sentence

older people, especially, were languishing during the prolonged heat wave

Recent Examples on the Web

Will the out-of-the-boxy Glass House thinking put some spark in Ford's languishing stock price? Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Will Ford's Detroit train station purchase spark its stock price?," 15 June 2018 With more and more Americans logging on to genealogy websites, the services have become vast repositories of DNA—and a potential trove for law enforcement agencies attempting to resolve languishing investigations. Fortune, "DNA Detectives Are Searching for Killers in Your Family Tree," 14 June 2018 Tackling a whole block in the languishing W. Baltimore Street corridor could jump start that area, Seipp said. Meredith Cohn,, "Baltimore's program to improve facades mostly helps established areas, so city tries new tack," 9 June 2018 However, acres of vacant land languished for years. Shakirah Simley, Bon Appetit, "The Harlem of the West: What’s to Become of The Fillmore?," 6 June 2018 Some 400,000 have applied for asylum here over the past four years, a group that is fighting for space in Italy’s languishing job market — particularly in Sicily, where unemployment stands at 21.5 percent, according to E.U. statistics. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, "The torchbearer of Italy’s far right is now in power and wants to make good on anti-migrant promises," 4 June 2018 As these processes play out, thousands of children continue to languish in U.S. government custody. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has focused on confirming conservative judges as part of the Republican Party’s efforts to reshape the judicial branch while allowing some executive-branch nominations to languish. Katie Benner, New York Times, "Justice Dept. Nominee Who Drew Scrutiny for Russian Bank Work Is Confirmed," 11 July 2018 The script languished for years, until the run-up to the 2016 election. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "RoboCop is coming back (again), this time from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp," 11 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for languish

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for languish

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

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More Definitions for languish



English Language Learners Definition of languish

: to continue for a long time without activity or progress in an unpleasant or unwanted situation


lan·guish | \ ˈlaŋ-gwish \
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.

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