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

Last year, tests showed that calcifications in her body — abnormal accumulations of calcium salts — were worsening. Deanese Williams-harris, chicagotribune.com, "People are using social media to improve their odds of finding organ donors: 'Doing it can save my life'," 6 July 2018 Meanwhile, the parking squeeze continues and is worsening as the busy summer travel season ramps up. Kelly Yamanouchi, ajc, "Hartsfield-Jackson parking squeeze causes travel hassles," 29 June 2018 If the assumptions in both studies are right, well-being away from work could be worsening for women relative to men. The Economist, "The changing world of work," 28 June 2018 But the marketing savvy had a shameful and horrifying result: contributing to the scourge of opioids that is only worsening today. Sarah Mupo, STAT, "The 39 best health and science books to read this summer," 25 June 2018 Pipelines are inadequate, forcing buyers to truck out much of the oil, which is worsening gridlock and increasing pollution. Jeffrey Ball, Fortune, "Photographing The Permian Basin," 25 May 2018 An outbreak of Ebola virus disease is worsening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and health workers are racing to vaccinate those at highest risk with an experimental vaccine. NBC News, "Where could Ebola spread?," 23 May 2018 Prison was worsening his hypertension and heart issues, their letters noted. Chris Graves, Cincinnati.com, "Pike County: Death in the foothills," 15 May 2018 So if your symptoms are worsening, or starting to affect your breathing, for instance, it’s probably time to make an appointment with your doctor. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "Do I Have Seasonal Allergies or a Cold?," 19 Apr. 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

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on worsen

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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