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

The rule, one of a dozen provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law that sought to rein in executive pay after the financial crisis, has languished since it was proposed in 2015. Gabriel T. Rubin, WSJ, "Companies Must Disclose Executive Hedging Strategies," 18 Dec. 2018 While Apple has been making impressive strides with the Apple Watch and even Samsung has turned its Gear lineup into competent smartwatches, Wear OS has languished with slow software updates and next to zero hardware advancements. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Fossil Sport Smartwatch review: new watch, same old tricks," 20 Nov. 2018 Get the Gringo, which Gibson produced, co-wrote, and starred in, never made it to a theatrical release in the US, instead languishing in video on demand upon its release in 2012. Constance Grady, Vox, "Mel Gibson has set the blueprint for a #MeToo comeback. Expect other men to follow it.," 24 July 2018 Sadly, the same cannot be said of the 2,000+ migrant children and babies currently languishing in their own version of remote caves. Rhonda Garelick, The Cut, "The Thai Cave Rescue Cannot Save Us From National Shame," 11 July 2018 Children languishing in the state’s dependency and delinquency system embody our inability to better govern. miamiherald, "Leigh-Ann Buchanan," 30 June 2018 There are thousands of people languishing in prison who are innocent. New York Times, "Readers Respond to the 6.3.18 Issue," 13 June 2018 No matter how many of them choose the Tigers, the fact Hardaway has Memphis in the mix for prospects of this caliber augurs well for his chances of reviving a program languishing in the middle tier of the American Athletic Conference. Chris Johnson,, "Winners and Losers of College Basketball's 2018 Recruiting Cycle," 2 May 2018 That’s probably why there are so many barely used treadmills languishing in family basements. Erin Stewart, SELF, "My Bipolar Disorder Makes Me Want to Spend Money I Don’t Have," 9 Apr. 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

20 Jan 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

: 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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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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