with·​er | \ˈwi-t͟hər \
withered; withering\ˈwit͟h-​riŋ, 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 \

Definition of Wither (Entry 3 of 3)

George 1588–1667 English poet and pamphleteer

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Synonyms for wither

Synonyms: Verb

dry, wilt

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Examples of wither in a Sentence


The plants withered and died. shortly after the moon landing, interest in the space program withered

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Many on Chauffeur’s team believed that Henry Ford was a remarkable innovator but that somewhere along the line, that spirit had withered in Detroit. Lawrence D. Burns, WSJ, "Late to the Driverless Revolution," 17 Aug. 2018 As policymakers debated between returning those who were unaccompanied to Haiti or releasing them to American relatives, the kids withered in a bureaucratic limbo. Brianna Nofil, Time, "Family Separation Is Officially Over, but History Suggests the U.S. Won't Find a Good Solution for Migrant Children," 28 June 2018 Over the course of a few months the leaf will gradually wither up and disappear on its own time. Molly Marquand, Good Housekeeping, "5 Of The Easiest Houseplants To Grow From Cuttings," 14 Dec. 2017 At its debut, at the Paris Salon, the painting invited withering criticism—including from Jacques-Louis David, Ingres’s artistic mentor who painted his own grand depictions of Napoleon. Benjamin Shull, WSJ, "Portraiture as Propaganda," 17 Aug. 2018 Those grand words have withered in the heat of the new era. The Economist, "American political rhetoric is sliding towards the sewer," 21 June 2018 And the shift has come in the wake of withering criticism and related financial risks for the firm. Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor, "Zuckerberg testimony: a tipping point for new privacy regs?," 11 Apr. 2018 But as programs withered, the harps fell into disrepair. Philly.com, "A rare instrument strikes a chord with Philly students," 31 Mar. 2018 When plants suffer from blight, leaves or branches suddenly wither, stop growing, and die. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "Grow Healthy Food By Identifying + Treating These Common Plant Diseases," 21 July 2015

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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Statistics for wither

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for wither

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

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More Definitions for wither



English Language Learners Definition of wither

of a plant : to become dry and weak


with·​er | \ˈwi-t͟hər \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wither

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wither

Spanish Central: Translation of wither

Nglish: Translation of wither for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wither for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wither

What made you want to look up wither? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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