with·​er | \ ˈwi-t͟hər How to pronounce wither (audio) \
withered; withering\ ˈwit͟h-​riŋ , ˈwi-​t͟hə-​ How to pronounce wither (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Wither (audio) \

Definition of Wither (Entry 3 of 3)

George 1588–1667 English poet and pamphleteer

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Synonyms for wither

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of wither in a Sentence

Verb The plants withered and died. shortly after the moon landing, interest in the space program withered
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ben Ritz, the director of the Center for Funding America’s Future at the Progressive Policy Institute, argues that Republicans could easily allow these programs to wither on the vine. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 14 Oct. 2021 After invading Afghanistan, less than two years later, the U.S. government was preparing for an even grander enterprise of invading Iraq, allowing the mission in Afghanistan to wither on the vine for years, until the 2008 election. Joseph S. Laughon, National Review, 18 Aug. 2021 But if the players had any doubts, those started to wither in 2014 when a task force was created by the U.S. to examine all things Ryder Cup after Europe had won six of the previous seven matches. Steve Dimeglio, USA TODAY, 20 Sep. 2021 But what last night’s announcement also reflects is the need to shore up a world order that has been left to wither after 20 years of complacency, hubris, and imperial overreach that Brexit and Trump’s election revealed as much as caused. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 16 Sep. 2021 Puderbaugh chose not to wither or wallow in self-pity. San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Aug. 2021 The classic old maid was a dowryless creature doomed to wither idly at her parents’ side. Wisława Szymborska, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2021 Private truth, the truth of the complex and contradictory heart, has nowhere to surface, and this private sphere, which is home to originality, conscience, and self-understanding, begins to wither and die. Greg Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 20 July 2021 In some cases, though, the isopod drinks and drinks until the tissue begins to wither and atrophy, transforming the tongue into a stub. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 14 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for wither

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

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wither. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for wither



English Language Learners Definition of wither

: to become dry and weak


with·​er | \ ˈwi-t͟hər How to pronounce wither (audio) \
withered; withering

Kids Definition of wither

: to shrivel or cause to shrivel from or as if from loss of moisture : wilt

More from Merriam-Webster on wither

Nglish: Translation of wither for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wither for Arabic Speakers


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