weaned; weaning; weans

transitive verb

: to accustom (a young child or animal) to take food otherwise than by nursing
: to detach from a source of dependence
being weaned off the medication
wean the bears from human foodSports Illus.
also : to free from a usually unwholesome habit or interest
wean him off his excessive drinking
settling his soldiers on the land …  , weaning them from habits of violence Geoffrey Carnall
: to accustom to something from an early age
used in the passive especially with on
students weaned on the Internet for researchI was weaned on greasepaintHelen Hayesthe principles upon which he had been weanedJ. A. Michener

Example Sentences

The calves are weaned at an early age.
Recent Examples on the Web There’s no magic formula for how long to be on both; try weaning off after a week. Erica Sweeney, Men's Health, 23 Feb. 2023 World markets are still buying Russian energy, even if Western European countries are weaning themselves from it. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 22 Feb. 2023 The United States is investing in mining operations abroad to wean off its dependence on fossil fuels but harbors concerns about trading with an abusive government. Zoe Dutton / Nexus Media, Popular Science, 23 Jan. 2023 The West is choking Russia with sanctions and vowing to wean itself from its oil and gas. Ken Silverstein, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2022 The video amassed over two million views, but from critics who felt that Emma had waited too long to wean her son from breastfeeding rather than moms who related to the experience. Angela Andaloro, Peoplemag, 28 Oct. 2022 The new dose controlled his blood glucose well, and so our new goal was to wean him fully off of insulin. Ricardo Nuila, The New Yorker, 9 Mar. 2023 More transmission lines such as this one will almost certainly be needed to wean the West off of fossil fuels. Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2023 As the West, and Europe in particular, tried both to sanction Russian fuel and to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas, Moscow found other big buyers: China and India. Quartz, 24 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wean.' 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 wenen, from Old English wenian to accustom, wean; akin to Old English wunian to be used to — more at wont

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near wean

Cite this Entry

“Wean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wean. Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to get a child or young animal used to food other than its mother's milk
: to turn (one) away from something long desired or followed
wean a person from a bad habit

Medical Definition


transitive verb
: to accustom (as an infant or young child) to take food otherwise than by nursing
: to detach usually gradually from a cause of dependence or form of treatment

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