\ 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

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

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"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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Protection from first and even second boosters will wane by this fall. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 9 May 2022 On the other hand, protection against severe illness did not wane among people with only three Pfizer doses during the study period. Esther Landhuis, Scientific American, 28 Apr. 2022 For one, the effectiveness of the shots can wane over time. Andrew Joseph And Matthew Herper, STAT, 9 Apr. 2022 An initial upswelling of patriotism could wane as the war’s grim reality sets in or as civilians begin to grasp Ukraine’s military losses, about which little is known. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 24 Mar. 2022 Early momentum can wane if other priorities and our day-to-day tasks steal the focus. Jeffrey Eiben, Forbes, 18 Mar. 2022 Maybe, over time, that sense of unity and purpose in the West will wane. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Mar. 2022 The solidarity of governments opposing Russia might wane as costs set in. Richard Fontaine, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 Their mutual attraction doesn't wane as each other's bodies change, whether that's due to pregnancy, battle scars, or the passing of time. Taylore Glynn, Allure, 5 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hale’s influence in the United States has been on the wane since the 1970s, with one state after another abandoning his legal principles on rape. Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, 6 May 2022 Antibodies wane as a normal course of an immune response to any vaccine. Matthew Woodruff, Quartz, 17 Sep. 2021 Even after Covid-19 cases wane, natural disasters and extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change threaten to disrupt supply chains around the world. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 15 Sep. 2021 Storms wane in the evening with clearing overnight and lows 70 to 75. Washington Post, 12 July 2021 Ben Bolch on college football: On the day California hailed its full-scale reopening amid a pandemic on the wane, UCLA and USC football fans could celebrate the renewal of a treasured fall tradition: their home stadiums teeming with activity. Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2021 With the fear of Covid-19 on the wane, consumers are spending much more on in-person services, like travel and entertainment, powering an impressive comeback in that sector. Gad Levanon For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 25 Apr. 2022 Word didn’t spread far enough last summer, and youth baseball is on the wane. Gregg Doyel, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Apr. 2022 In older age, altruistic motivations become stronger, while narcissistic values wane in influence. Bonnie Marcus, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wane. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for wane


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on wane

Nglish: Translation of wane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wane for Arabic Speakers


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