- to accustom (a child or young animal) to food other than its mother's milk; cause to lose the need to suckle or turn to the mother for food.
- to withdraw (a person, the affections, one's dependency, etc.) from some object, habit, form of enjoyment, or the like: The need to reduce had weaned us from rich desserts.
- wean on, to accustom to; to familiarize with from, or as if from, childhood: a brilliant student weaned on the classics; suburban kids weaned on rock music.
Origin of wean
- to cause (a child or young mammal) to replace mother's milk by other nourishment
- (usually foll by from) to cause to desert former habits, pursuits, etc
- Scot and Northern English dialect a child; infant
Word Origin and History for preweaning
Old English wenian "to accustom," from Proto-Germanic *wanjanan (cf. Old Norse venja, Dutch wennen, Old High German giwennan, German gewöhnen "to accustom"), from *wanaz "accustomed" (related to wont). The sense of weaning a child from the breast in Old English was generally expressed by gewenian or awenian, which has a sense of "unaccustom" (cf. German abgewöhnen, entwöhnen "to wean," literally "to unaccustom"). The prefix subsequently wore off. Figurative extension to any pursuit or habit is from 1520s.
- To deprive permanently of breast milk and begin to nourish with other food.
- To accustom the young of a mammal to take nourishment other than by suckling.
- To gradually withdraw from a life-support system.