wors·​en | \ˈwər-sᵊn \
worsened; worsening\ˈwərs-​niŋ, ˈwər-​sᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of worsen 

intransitive verb

: to become worse the weather began to worsen

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Examples of worsen in a Sentence

Spending more money is only going to worsen the problem. the condition of the house worsened with every year of neglect

Recent Examples on the Web

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that former GE employees told federal investigators that the company failed to acknowledge worsening results in the insurance business. Ezequiel Minaya, WSJ, "Long-Term Care Insurance Policies Weigh Down GE and Other Companies," 3 Dec. 2018 Rising average temperatures worsen ground-level ozone, which can harm breathing. Umair Irfan, Vox, "3 big takeaways from the major new US climate report," 24 Nov. 2018 In an era when traffic is worsening throughout many urban areas, a live-work property is tempting. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Historic live-work bookstore wants $1.5M," 12 Nov. 2018 That’s actually one of the things that’s helped worsen the narrative in politics. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: RevUp CEO Steve Spinner on Recode Decode," 12 Nov. 2018 And, of course, this is another reason to quit smoking, since the habit can worsen reflux issues. Danielle Sepulveres, SELF, "My Exercise-Induced Acid Reflux Almost Made Me Stop Running," 7 Nov. 2018 That said, while Déraciné mostly benefits from virtual reality, there are elements of this style of game that are worsened by the headset. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Déraciné is a short, somber VR story from the creators of Dark Souls," 6 Nov. 2018 Studies show the barrage of disturbing and infuriating stories can worsen feelings of anxiety, lead to sadness, and flip you into a bad mood. Samantha Boardman, Marie Claire, "Help! The News Is Making Me Feel Depressed," 9 Oct. 2018 Iran saw nationwide protests in late December and early January over its worsening economic situation, which resulted in nearly 5,000 reported arrests and at least 25 people being killed. Jon Gambrell, Fox News, "Iran's politicians under pressure, 40 years after revolution," 24 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'worsen.' 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 worsen

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Dictionary Entries near worsen






worse off


Statistics for worsen

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for worsen

The first known use of worsen was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for worsen



English Language Learners Definition of worsen

: to make (something) worse or to become worse


wors·​en | \ˈwər-sᵊn \
worsened; worsening

Kids Definition of worsen

: to get worse His fever is worsening.

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More from Merriam-Webster on worsen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with worsen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for worsen

Spanish Central: Translation of worsen

Nglish: Translation of worsen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of worsen for Arabic Speakers

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a knickknack or trinket

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