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

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Other Words from languish

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

Examples of languish in a Sentence

older people, especially, were languishing during the prolonged heat wave
Recent Examples on the Web But researchers hope that linking symptoms to brain biology could help people who have languished despite treatment. Emily Underwood, Science | AAAS, "Brain scans could help personalize treatment for people who are depressed or suicidal," 20 Aug. 2019 To gratuitously label political opponents fascists and Nazis is not only politically counterproductive, but also minimizes the evil and horror of Nazism and the suffering of the millions of people who languished under that system. Karen Ann Cullotta,, "Chicago’s Jewish community split over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comparison of border detention to ‘concentration camps’," 24 June 2019 Saldaña, who has languished as a fundraiser, had $725 in her committee’s account as of April 21, so the money from Kasparian’s union could jump-start her campaign. Joshua Stewart,, "Mickey Kasparian's labor union gives $150k to help Lori Saldaña’s supervisor run," 3 May 2018 There’s little chance of that if trading volumes are languishing. Washington Post, "Relax. China Only Wants a Bull Market, Not a Mad Cow," 18 Sep. 2019 Worried about running out, Kugler mixed the beer half and half with a batch of lemon soda that was languishing in his inventory, and created what is now called a Radler. Jay R. Brooks, The Mercury News, "The West Coast’s new radlers and shandys," 7 Aug. 2019 On the other was downtown, which until recent years was languishing. Don Stacom,, "‘Beehive Bridge’ giving a new look to New Britain," 1 July 2019 The New Jersey Democratic senator, former Housing secretary and the former Maryland congressman have been languishing in the low single digits in polls and were looking for breakout moments in Wednesday night's debate. NBC News, "Booker, Castro, Delaney see fundraising boost after debate," 28 June 2019 Industrial metals, in contrast, have been languishing near their lowest levels of 2019, hurt by concerns about U.S.-China trade tensions and their impact on global growth. Joe Wallace, WSJ, "Gold Surges to Highest Price Since 2013 After Fed Hints at Rate Cut," 20 June 2019

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

13 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for languish

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

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More Definitions for languish


How to pronounce languish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of languish

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


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.

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