1 of 2


waned; waning

intransitive verb

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


2 of 2


: the act or process of waning
strength on the wane
: a period or time of waning
specifically : the period from the full moon to the new moon
[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

Did you know?

In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer, an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, recounts some of the stories of her people surrounding Windigos, fearsome, shrieking monsters that prey on human flesh: “The Windigo is most powerful in the Hungry Times. With the warm breezes his power wanes.” Wane is a verb used when something—such as strength, power, or influence—decreases or diminishes, usually with the implication that the lessening is gradual, natural, or—as in the case of the Windigo—seasonal. Daylight wanes, as does summer. In a classroom, one’s attention may be said to wane if, minute by minute, one becomes more interested in watching birds through the window than following the points of the professor’s lecture. For centuries, wane has also been called upon to describe the seeming decrease in the size of the moon in the later phases of the lunar cycle. The traditional opposite of wane is wax, a once common but now rare synonym of grow. Wane and wax have been partnered in references to the moon since the Middle Ages.

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
This new confidence reflects a specific reading of the waning years (or what are probably the waning years) of the Francis pontificate. Ross Douthat, The Mercury News, 14 May 2024 The hotel's owner, Vinay Patel, has noticed this interaction waning. Alina Selyukh, NPR, 13 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for wane 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wane.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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"

First Known Use


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


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

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


Dictionary Entries Near wane

Cite this Entry

“Wane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wane. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
waned; waning
: to grow gradually smaller or less
the moon wanes
: to lose power, prosperity, or influence
the nation waned as its commerce declined
: to draw toward an end
summer is waning


2 of 2 noun
: the act or process of waning
: a period or time of waning
especially : the period from the full phase of the moon to the new moon

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