\ ˈwān How to pronounce wane (audio) \
waned; waning

Definition of wane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to decrease in size, extent, or degree : dwindle: such as
a : to diminish in phase or intensity used chiefly of the moon, other satellites, and inferior planets
b : to become less brilliant or powerful : dim
c : to flow out : ebb
2 : to fall gradually from power, prosperity, or influence



Definition of wane (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act or process of waning strength on the wane
b : a period or time of waning specifically : the period from the full moon to the new moon
2 [Middle English, defect, from Old English wana; akin to Old English wan deficient] : a defect in lumber characterized by bark or a lack of wood at a corner or edge

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Choose the Right Synonym for wane


abate, subside, wane, ebb mean to die down in force or intensity. abate stresses the idea of progressive diminishing. the storm abated subside implies the ceasing of turbulence or agitation. the protests subsided after a few days wane suggests the fading or weakening of something good or impressive. waning enthusiasm ebb suggests the receding of something (such as the tide) that commonly comes and goes. the ebbing of daylight

Did You Know?


"Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour / Draws on apace four happy days bring in / Another moon: But oh, methinks how slow / This old moon wanes!" So Theseus describes his eagerness for his wedding night in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. As illustrated by Theseus' words, wane is a word often called upon to describe the seeming decrease in size of the moon in the later phases of the lunar cycle. The traditional opposite of wane is wax, a once common but now infrequently used synonym of grow. Wane and wax have been partnered in reference to the moon since the Middle Ages.

Examples of wane in a Sentence

Verb The moon waxes and then wanes. The scandal caused her popularity to wane. Interest in this issue has continued to wane. the waning days of summer
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Proponents of policing reforms are nervous that the momentum and the public’s interest in addressing policing practices may wane if Congress doesn’t act swiftly. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, "As Congress leaves town, hopes for police reforms fade," 1 July 2020 In the meantime, our capacity for dealing with the virus may also wane, in certain ways, with summer. Roxanne Khamsi, Wired, "If the Virus Slows This Summer, It May Be Time to Worry," 18 June 2020 The surges come as much of Asia, Europe and scores of U.S. states have been easing lockdowns to restart their economies as new infections wane. Vladimir Isachenkov, Time, "Coronavirus Spike in Russia, Brazil, India and Others Show Pandemic is Far From Over," 19 May 2020 The surges come as much of Asia, Europe and scores of U.S. states have been easing lockdowns to restart their economies as new infections wane. Anchorage Daily News, "Coronavirus infections spike in Russia, Brazil and beyond as much of world eases lockdowns," 19 May 2020 Once the threat at a site has begun to wane, the cytokine signaling typically shuts off and allows the defensive forces to clear. National Geographic, "A one-two punch to fight COVID-19," 7 May 2020 At the peak, restrictions imposed would inflict some pain—most notably, by reducing consumer and business consumption by 76% at week 32—but then the impact would gradually ease as infections wane. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "The reopening dilemma: Saving lives vs. saving the economy is a false tradeoff, economists say," 4 May 2020 But slowly the epidemic began to wane, and by the fall of 2014, PEDv had finally loosened its grip. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Coronavirus Spread Through U.S. Pigs in 2013. Here’s How It Was Stopped," 10 Apr. 2020 Still, DeRozan has done his best to lead the charge even as the Spurs’ postseason prospects have begun to wane. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "Is this DeMar DeRozan’s final act with the Spurs?," 11 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun State officials reported comparatively low figures for new COVID-19 infections and deaths Monday, a sign the pandemic’s impact may be on the wane. USA TODAY, "Park changes, social-distancing lifeguards, pear plant outbreak: News from around our 50 states," 2 June 2020 New jobs figures released by the Labor Department on Friday show the economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, lowering the unemployment rate to 13.3%, as local governments ease restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak wanes. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Chris Wallace marks Trump's 'political resilience' after surprise jobs report," 5 June 2020 As diversity wanes, the balance is upset, and remaining species are both more vulnerable to human influences and, according to a landmark 2010 study in the journal Nature, more likely to pass along powerful pathogens. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, "How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease," 7 May 2020 After spending $30 million in 2016 toward efforts to elect Trump, the NRA saw its political influence wane in 2018 when it got outspent by several gun-control groups. CBS News, "NRA lays off dozens and shuts down fundraising amid coronavirus," 4 May 2020 The Trump administration has moved forward with major environmental rollbacks in recent weeks that are expected to hinder progress toward healthful air long after the pandemic wanes. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. coronavirus clean air streak has already come to an end. Here’s why," 28 Apr. 2020 Being sealed in an aircraft with dozens of strangers, whose health status is unknown, may still feel like a high-risk act even months after the pandemic wanes. Vivienne Walt, Fortune, "For airlines in freefall, the return route will be long and bumpy," 19 Apr. 2020 For though its power wanes and waxes, the Catholic Church is one of the few constants through his work’s centuries-long timeline. Jack Butler, National Review, "The End Is Near? Three Apocalyptic Novels," 14 Mar. 2020 And that, perhaps, is a danger of this necessary shift from local, in-person performance to online global broadcast in the pandemic moment: a homogenization of culture that reinforces power structures that might have seemed to be on the wane. Daniel Pollack-pelzner, The Atlantic, "The Case for Watching a Play on the Internet," 25 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wane.' 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 wane


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

History and Etymology for wane


Middle English wanien, wanen, going back to Old English wanian, going back to Germanic *wanōjan- (whence Old High German wanōn "to lessen," Old Norse vana), weak verb derivative from *wano- "deficient, absent," whence Old English & Old High German wan "lacking, deficient," Old Norse vanr, Gothic wans; akin to Latin vānus "empty, vain," Greek eûnis "bereft (of), without," Sanskrit ūna- "deficient, defective"

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Time Traveler for wane

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The first known use of wane was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wane. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for wane


How to pronounce wane (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wane

of the moon : to appear to become thinner or less full
: to become smaller or less : to decrease in size, amount, length, or quality


\ ˈwān How to pronounce wane (audio) \
waned; waning

Kids Definition of wane

1 : to grow smaller or less His interest in the game was waning. The moon wanes.
2 : to grow shorter The day is waning.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wane

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wane

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wane

Spanish Central: Translation of wane

Nglish: Translation of wane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wane for Arabic Speakers

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