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

Definition of wither

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 3)

chiefly British


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

Definition of Wither (Entry 3 of 3)

George 1588–1667 English poet and pamphleteer

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Synonyms for wither

Synonyms: Verb

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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 Naylor says that the rich coral reefs in the walking sharks’ range are dynamic, shifting continually over recent epochs as sea levels rise and fall, currents shift, reefs flourish or wither, and temperatures change. National Geographic, "These sharks have evolved to walk on land—and they did it quickly," 23 Jan. 2020 For nearly two decades, reviewers have chewed over his bestselling books, often subjecting them to withering criticism for their cherry-picking of social science and history. Hugh Eakin, Harper's magazine, "Selective Hearing," 19 Jan. 2020 The utility awarded Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny Montana firm with only a handful of employees, a $300 million contract to rebuild the island’s power grid after Maria, only to face withering criticism from members of Congress and FEMA. New York Times, "With Earthquakes and Storms, Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Can’t Catch a Break," 10 Jan. 2020 With 30% less rainfall than normal, verdant landscapes have withered, reservoirs are low, and more than 100,000 farm animals have died. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "A warning from ancient tree rings: The Americas are prone to catastrophic, simultaneous droughts," 31 Dec. 2019 In two days of congressional hearings at the end of October, Muilenburg faced withering criticism from lawmakers, who told him to resign or take a pay cut. BostonGlobe.com, "Boeing’s deepening crisis has CEO on the hot seat - The Boston Globe," 23 Dec. 2019 Over a period of years, the green corridor would wither, and the birds and animals would vanish. AZCentral.com, "It's one of Arizona's most precious rivers. Hundreds of new wells may leave it running dry," 5 Dec. 2019 Then that investment and potentially 2,000 jobs at Detroit-Hamtramck might wither. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "UAW got a good deal from GM, labor leaders, experts say," 18 Oct. 2019 Fundamentalism after Scopes Though the Scopes Trial brought ridicule by the national media, fundamentalism did not wither away. William Trollinger, The Conversation, "Fundamentalism turns 100, a landmark for the Christian Right," 8 Oct. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for wither

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wither

Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wither. Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for wither


How to pronounce Wither (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wither

of a plant : to become dry and weak


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on wither

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wither

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wither

Spanish Central: Translation of wither

Nglish: Translation of wither for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wither for Arabic Speakers

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