\ 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

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 And now that Guatemala has in effect given Belize a veto over its own dismemberment, if Belize does vote no, passions are likely to wane further. The Economist, "Guatemala votes to demand 53% of its neighbour’s territory," 19 Apr. 2018 The fiscal year 2020 budget projects much stronger growth than many independent forecasters, who see the economy slowing this year as the effects of those fiscal stimulus measures wane. Kate Davidson, WSJ, "Trump’s Budget Sets High Expectations for Economic Growth," 9 Mar. 2019 Storm activity will wane and push east after sunset. Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Scattered showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Much hotter on Sunday.," 23 June 2018 Because efficacy can wane over time, there are frequent outbreaks of mumps in the U.S. NBC News, "Cheerleaders warned about mumps exposure after national competition," 7 Mar. 2018 As King's focus became more intense, Riggs' began to wane. Molly Knight, Marie Claire, "The Real Story of the Battle of the Sexes," 20 Sep. 2017 With a full bar that serves whiskey on tap, the energy at this dive never seems to wane. Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Things To Do in Austin," 4 Mar. 2018 Milwaukee wasn't going to hold Boston down all night, but the Bucks' intensity didn't wane after that first quarter. Matt Velazquez, USA TODAY, "Milwaukee Bucks rout Boston Celtics in Game 3 of NBA playoff series," 21 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Stranger still, honeybees continue dying even though colony collapse disorder peaked quickly and has been on the wane. Thor Hanson, WSJ, "The Plight of the Humble Bee," 29 June 2018 Once the fireworks emissions wane, regulators are warning that record high temperatures and strong inversion layers forecast for this weekend threaten to produce unusually poor air quality for several more days. Jon Schleuss, latimes.com, "The Fourth of July brings some of the year's worst air pollution. You can thank fireworks," 3 July 2018 Poliovirus is designed to infect cells and reproduce for a few weeks, and once the microbes have done their work in infecting cells, their anti-cancer effect wanes as well. Alice Park, Time, "Polio Virus Could Help Treat Brain Cancer. Here's How," 26 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

14 May 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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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

Comments on wane

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a tendency to relapse

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