\ ˈwān How to pronounce wane (audio) \
waned; waning

Essential Meaning of wane

1 of the moon : to appear to become thinner or less full The moon waxes and then wanes.
2 : to become smaller or less : to decrease in size, amount, length, or quality The scandal caused her popularity to wane. Interest in this issue has continued to wane. the waning days of summer

Full Definition of wane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to decrease in size, extent, or degree : dwindle: such as
a : to diminish in phase or intensity used chiefly of the moon, other satellites, and inferior planets
b : to become less brilliant or powerful : dim
c : to flow out : ebb
2 : to fall gradually from power, prosperity, or influence



Definition of wane (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act or process of waning strength on the wane
b : a period or time of waning specifically : the period from the full moon to the new moon
2 [Middle English, defect, from Old English wana; akin to Old English wan deficient] : a defect in lumber characterized by bark or a lack of wood at a corner or edge

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Choose the Right Synonym for wane


abate, subside, wane, ebb mean to die down in force or intensity. abate stresses the idea of progressive diminishing. the storm abated subside implies the ceasing of turbulence or agitation. the protests subsided after a few days wane suggests the fading or weakening of something good or impressive. waning enthusiasm ebb suggests the receding of something (such as the tide) that commonly comes and goes. the ebbing of daylight

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"Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour / Draws on apace four happy days bring in / Another moon: But oh, methinks how slow / This old moon wanes!" So Theseus describes his eagerness for his wedding night in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. As illustrated by Theseus' words, wane is a word often called upon to describe the seeming decrease in size of the moon in the later phases of the lunar cycle. The traditional opposite of wane is wax, a once common but now infrequently used synonym of grow. Wane and wax have been partnered in reference to the moon since the Middle Ages.

Examples of wane in a Sentence

Verb The moon waxes and then wanes. The scandal caused her popularity to wane. Interest in this issue has continued to wane. the waning days of summer
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The possible arrival of Merck’s molnupiravir pill, coupled with the prospect that the pandemic will wane further, already is weighing on the valuations of jab makers. Time, 9 Oct. 2021 As the debt ceiling debate rages on, faith in the dollar could wane and investors may choose precious metals as a hedge against the uncertainty. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 Antibodies -- immune system proteins that can either flag an invader or directly attack and neutralize it -- build up quickly but can wane over time. Maggie Fox, CNN, 21 Sep. 2021 Protection against severe disease, however, doesn’t fall to fifty per cent until antibodies wane to just three per cent of post-infection levels. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 22 Aug. 2021 Early in the next century, as the productive capacities of plantation agriculture were gradually exhausted, and the South’s power began to wane in relation to the industrial North, the next chapter in the story was written: imperialism. Rick Perlstein, The New Republic, 20 Jan. 2021 Effectiveness started to wane a few months after people were fully vaccinated -- defined as two weeks after their second dose of either vaccine. Maggie Fox, CNN, 25 Sep. 2021 When the golden age for antibiotic development began to wane in the 1970s, natural-product drug-development programs also withered. Stephanie Stone, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Sep. 2021 In-flight tensions are unlikely to wane as the mask requirement for planes was extended just this week from September into January. Mina Kaji, ABC News, 19 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although there are no guarantees with the coronavirus, the spike that Indiana witnessed earlier this month seems to be on the wane. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, 29 Sep. 2021 But data from a variety of sources offers some confirmation of what many oncologists say anecdotally — the method is on the wane for many cancer patients. New York Times, 27 Sep. 2021 Three of the seven winning titles are from Argentina, a sign of the country’s undeniable depth in talent as its industry, with COVID-19 on the wane, continues to be whammied by economic crisis. John Hopewell, Variety, 22 Sep. 2021 Once again, yellowjackets appear to be on the wane, but Benadryl in the pack is always a good idea. Bill Monroe, oregonlive, 17 Sep. 2021 Although white students still constitute the largest group of undergraduates at every one of these institutions, their share of enrollment is on the wane. Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 As pandemic restrictions ease in some countries, the lockdown love for pets might also be on the wane. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Sep. 2021 After reaching a peak of 81% effectiveness against severe COVID-19 disease among Israelis in March 2021, the protection from two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot against severe disease started to wane in April, sliding to 69.4%. Alice Park, Time, 18 Aug. 2021 Should that change this quarter, that would be a positive development — especially since this source of revenue is due to wane as other automakers start selling more of their own electric vehicles. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 26 July 2021

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for wane


Middle English wanien, wanen, going back to Old English wanian, going back to Germanic *wanōjan- (whence Old High German wanōn "to lessen," Old Norse vana), weak verb derivative from *wano- "deficient, absent," whence Old English & Old High German wan "lacking, deficient," Old Norse vanr, Gothic wans; akin to Latin vānus "empty, vain," Greek eûnis "bereft (of), without," Sanskrit ūna- "deficient, defective"

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The first known use of wane was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

11 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wane. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for wane


\ ˈwān How to pronounce wane (audio) \
waned; waning

Kids Definition of wane

1 : to grow smaller or less His interest in the game was waning. The moon wanes.
2 : to grow shorter The day is waning.

More from Merriam-Webster on wane

Nglish: Translation of wane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wane for Arabic Speakers


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