with·​er | \ ˈwi-t͟hər How to pronounce wither (audio) \
withered; withering\ ˈwit͟h-​riŋ , ˈwi-​t͟hə-​ How to pronounce wither (audio) \

Definition of wither

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to become dry and sapless especially : to shrivel from or as if from loss of bodily moisture
2 : to lose vitality, force, or freshness public support for the bill is withering

transitive verb

1 : to cause to wither
2 : to make speechless or incapable of action : stun withered him with a look— Dorothy Sayers



Definition of wither (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly British

Synonyms for wither

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of wither in a Sentence

Verb The plants withered and died. shortly after the moon landing, interest in the space program withered
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Not all plants wither when faced with harsh conditions. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 2 May 2022 Other studies show that elites are more individualistic, while non-elites place a higher value on community and solidarity, which explains the soul pain of people in rural and Rust Belt America who are seeing their communities wither. Joan C. Williams, The New Republic, 19 Apr. 2022 If forests continue to wither, so will the likelihood that Earth’s warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial levels — a central aim of the Paris climate accord. Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2022 But even if on-farm recharge is proven safe, beneficial, and arguably necessary for the fish, the crops, the land, and the residents—even if all of that happens, the Terranova project could still wither on the vine. Susie Cagle, Wired, 12 Apr. 2022 Tandy’s early dominance would wither as competitors developed models that were equally inexpensive or offered faster speeds and greater functionality. New York Times, 23 Mar. 2022 Civil society will wither at the hands of elites with luxury beliefs who cannot engage respectfully with dissenting thought. WSJ, 21 Mar. 2022 The cost of running this model helps explain why it was allowed to wither nationwide after the 2008 and 2012 Obama victories, leaving little on the ground during the GOP surge years of 2010 and 2014. Ben Wikler, The New Republic, 28 Feb. 2022 The hand that signed the treaty, Scheidemann declared, should wither away. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of wither


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


1607, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wither


Middle English widren; probably akin to Middle English weder weather

Learn More About wither

Time Traveler for wither

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near wither




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wither

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wither. Accessed 29 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for wither


with·​er | \ ˈwi-t͟hər How to pronounce wither (audio) \
withered; withering

Kids Definition of wither

: to shrivel or cause to shrivel from or as if from loss of moisture : wilt

Wither biographical name

With·​er | \ ˈwi-t͟hər How to pronounce Wither (audio) \

Definition of Wither

George 1588–1667 English poet and pamphleteer

More from Merriam-Webster on wither

Nglish: Translation of wither for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wither for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!