\ ˈwän How to pronounce wan (audio) \
wanner; wannest

Definition of wan

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : suggestive of poor health : sickly, pallid
b : lacking vitality : feeble
2 : dim, faint
3 : languid a wan smile


wanned; wanning

Definition of wan (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to grow or become pale or sickly


\ ˈwan How to pronounce WAN (audio) \

Definition of WAN (Entry 3 of 3)

Other Words from wan


wanly adverb
wanness \ ˈwän-​nəs How to pronounce wan (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for wan

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of wan in a Sentence

Adjective She gave a wan laugh. she looks a little wan after all that tiring work
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold, And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold. Elizabeth Lund, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Apr. 2020 If the land in question has been converted from agricultural fields to golf-course acreage, the net impact of those other factors might actually be lessened, but that’s a wan exculpation. David Quammen, Outside Online, 2 Mar. 2020 What seemed inventive and clever in the confines of a small off-Broadway theater feels utterly wan in its current incarnation. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Oct. 2019 The industrial lagers were flavorless, wan and dilute; craft beer, by contrast, would be rich, complex and delicious. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, 31 Jan. 2020 That was the epoch of Tide football spearheaded by the Mikes — DuBose, Price and Shula with a dash of Dennis Franchione added into a wan mix of uninspired, sometimes scandalous leadership at the dawn of this century. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 30 Dec. 2019 Evans managed both to placate the money men at Gulf & Western, who wanted to sell Paramount because of its wan revenue, and become a peer of Hollywood's rambunctious talent. cleveland, 28 Oct. 2019 Our family just discovered Gobi Manchurian, and for anyone who considers cauliflower a wan version of broccoli, try this and banish thoughts of soggy vegetables from your mind. BostonGlobe.com, 30 Mar. 2018 The beautiful young actress turns into a wan woman in a bandana and mismatched clothes. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Sep. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wan


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


1578, in the meaning defined above


1983, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wan


Middle English, from Old English wann dark, livid

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The first known use of wan was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Wan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wan. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for wan


\ ˈwän How to pronounce wan (audio) \
wanner; wannest

Kids Definition of wan

1 : having a pale or sickly color
2 : showing little effort or energy a wan smile

Other Words from wan

wanly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on wan

Nglish: Translation of wan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wan for Arabic Speakers


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