wors·​en ˈwər-sᵊn How to pronounce worsen (audio)
worsened; worsening
ˈwər-sᵊn-iŋ How to pronounce worsen (audio)

intransitive verb

: to become worse
the weather began to worsen

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 Alternatively, some negative symptoms might have been caused, or worsened, by nocebo effects. TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 Pollen allergies are worsening globally because of climate change, with spring temperatures rising and plants releasing pollen earlier and for longer periods, according to the World Economic Forum. Michelle Lee, Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2024 Also in the news: The deaths of seven aid workers by an Israeli airstrike could worsen the already critical food crisis in Gaza. USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2024 The region is in a vicious cycle in which climate change contributes to dry and hot conditions that worsen fires, with those fires in turn releasing greenhouse gasses that further drive climate change, Lozada said. CNN, 2 Apr. 2024 Israeli officials declined to comment on the incident, which risks worsening the already high tensions in the region. NBC News, 2 Apr. 2024 Chest or stomach pain Confusion or dizziness Dehydration Lack of urination Seizures Severe muscle pain Shortness of breath or trouble breathing Symptoms improve but then come back or worsen Underlying health conditions that worsen with illness When Is the Best Time To Take Allergy Medicine? Amanda Gardner, Health, 30 Mar. 2024 Inside the crisis transforming the Southwest Jan. 26, 2023 The river’s flow has declined dramatically since 2000, and research has shown that global warming worsened the long stretch of extremely dry years through 2022. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2024 People who had worsening metabolic syndrome were twice as likely to develop breast cancer, more than three times as likely to develop endometrial cancer, 4.5 times more likely to develop kidney cancer, and about 1.6 times more likely to develop liver cancer compared to the low and stable group. Kaitlin Sullivan, Health, 23 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'worsen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near worsen

Cite this Entry

“Worsen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worsen. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


wors·​en ˈwərs-ᵊn How to pronounce worsen (audio)
worsened; worsening ˈwərs-niŋ How to pronounce worsen (audio)
: to make or become worse
the weather worsened

More from Merriam-Webster on worsen

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