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

Instead of languishing in a Seattle lineup that has been listless since a hot start to the season, Encarnacion will spend the rest of the year hitting in the middle of one of the league’s most potent orders. Michael Beller,, "Stock Ticker: Expect Edwin Encarnacion to Rise in the Heart of Yankees' Lineup," 18 June 2019 He was selected by Trump to head up the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, though his appointment has languished in the Senate for about a year. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Hunter’s legal predicament goes from bad to much worse. What are the GOP’s options?," 16 June 2019 Funding for the project already looks precarious: BART sought a $1.25 billion grant from the Federal Transit Administration, but its application has languished in Washington for 18 months. Rachel Swan,, "Crusade for riders or risky gambit? BART director pushes to delay fare increase," 4 June 2019 Rising interest rates are another potential threat: After languishing in the middle of the year, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note has made a run above the 3% mark, pushing up borrowing costs for everything from homes to cars. Akane Otani, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Widen Lead Over Rest of the World," 1 Oct. 2018 Deep-frozen Jake Gyllenhaal followed by Shailene Woodley on the half-shell, floating across the South Pacific in a dismasted schooner with Sam Claflin languishing in the stern. Aaron Kandell, New York Times, "Review: Shailene Woodley Braves the Elements in ‘Adrift’," 31 May 2018 With Mocenecagi languishing in the sin bin, New Zealand looked to have converted a third try with just seconds remaining in the first half, but after reviewing the incident the video ref decided that Ware had spilled the ball. Chris Scott, CNN, "New Zealand regain their crown as kings of Commonwealth rugby sevens," 15 Apr. 2018 Struggling La Liga side Malaga have named Jose Gonzalez as their new head coach, after sacking Michel earlier on Saturday with the team languishing in the relegation zone. Afp,, "Malaga appoint former player Gonzalez as manager," 13 Jan. 2018 Lyft’s stock has languished below its IPO since early April, while Uber’s stock climbed above its $45 IPO price for the first time in early June. Asjylyn Loder, WSJ, "Uber and Other IPOs Set for an Index Bounce," 14 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

7 Jul 2019

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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

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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More from Merriam-Webster on languish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with languish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for languish

Spanish Central: Translation of languish

Nglish: Translation of languish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of languish for Arabic Speakers

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