\ 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


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

Or is the Reds surprising pitching excellence beginning to wane? Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc's Morning Line: Is the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff waning? We're about to find out.," 14 July 2019 Babies have some immunity from their mother that begins to wane around 6 months, which is why 6 months is the earliest point the vaccine should be given, experts say. Soumya Karlamangla, latimes.com, "First measles case confirmed this year in San Bernardino County," 2 July 2019 As Cordoba’s prominence began to wane, Toledo rose to importance. Rachel Newcomb, Washington Post, "During the Dark Ages, scholars in a few cities kept ancient knowledge alive," 20 June 2019 During lunch, Steve Gilliam's enthusiasm begins to wane. Stephanie Innes, AZCentral.com, "Arizona is a hotbed for the cadaver industry, and potential donors have plenty of options," 10 June 2019 But WeWork and other companies in the co-working industry appear confident that the demand for their less traditional approach to the workplace isn’t about to wane. Tim Logan, BostonGlobe.com, "Large companies, not just startups, embrace co-working spots," 17 May 2018 The effect was especially intense in southern King County, where Wharton lived, as economic opportunity continued to wane for two decades. Matthew Van Meter, The New Republic, "The Judge and the Three-Strikes Convict," 17 June 2019 From her office in L.A., where interest in catching Little was starting to wane among some of her supervisors, Roberts continued to track his movements through the Midwest and Southeast. James Queally, latimes.com, "There’s a real-life Michael Connelly character in the LAPD, and she’s gunning for Harry Bosch’s job," 13 June 2019 The debt overhang, combined with a slide in the dollar, has strategists warning that international appetite for Treasuries may wane. Bloomberg.com, "Mnuchin's Treasury Poised to Rev Up Supply as Budget Gap Widens," 26 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sugared lard, as great as that sounds, is on the wane, making way for sweets that are more personal, more portable and more present-day. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, "Couples are opting out of wedding cakes for more distinctive sweets.," 19 June 2019 But sellers have seen their power wane nonetheless. oregonlive.com, "Portland home sales rebound to their highest level in nearly two years," 21 June 2019 But the Second Intifada also explains why terrorist attacks against Israelis have been on the wane. Batya Ungar-sargon, The New York Review of Books, "A Palestinian in Israeli Military Court: Issa Amro, the Judge, & Me," 17 June 2019 But when the entire TV calendar is filled with new shows, when every week feels like the fall TV seasons of yore, the importance of fall premiere week every late September wanes. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "There is no fall TV season anymore," 24 Sep. 2018 Religious fanaticism is on the wane, and corrupt power networks among both the clergy and institutions like the Revolutionary Guard have discredited the regime in the eyes of the people. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Trump’s Iran Gambit," 8 June 2018 Over time, however, that production wanes and lips get thinner and drier. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "How Doctors Are Using Lip Filler to Mimic the Appearance of Makeup," 15 Aug. 2018 The Latest on the political situation in the Balkans (all times local): 4:10 p.m. The European Commission is recommending that the EU launch membership talks with Albania and Macedonia, even as enthusiasm for enlargement of the 28-nation bloc wanes. Fox News, "The Latest: EU backs membership talks for Albania, Macedonia," 17 Apr. 2018 And with the decline of unions, one of the last pillars of top-down authority in their coalition is on the wane. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "As Trump Consolidates Power, Democrats Confront a Rebellion in Their Ranks," 30 June 2018

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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Last Updated

23 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for wane

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

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More Definitions for wane



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wane

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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something desired as essential

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