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[won] /wɒn/
adjective, wanner, wannest.
of an unnatural or sickly pallor; pallid; lacking color:
His wan face suddenly flushed.
showing or suggesting ill health, fatigue, unhappiness, etc.:
a wan look; a wan smile.
lacking in forcefulness, competence, or effectiveness:
their wan attempts to organize the alumni.
  1. dark or gloomy.
  2. pale in color or hue.
verb (used with or without object), wanned, wanning.
to become or make wan.
Origin of wan1
before 900; Middle English; Old English wann dark, gloomy
Related forms
wanly, adverb
wanness, noun
Can be confused
one, wan, won.
1. ashen. See pale1 . 3. feeble, weak, half-hearted, lame.
1. ruddy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wanness
Historical Examples
  • There was a wanness, a heaviness of aspect, that made him look ten years older.

    Lover or Friend

    Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • It was the last phase, the feebleness, the wanness, the inertia!

    The Blind Spot Austin Hall
  • Vague lines of wanness betrayed the place of the cement walks.

    Prairie Gold Various
  • Since that little cloud was dispelled all the temporary waste and wanness have vanished.

    Shirley Charlotte Bront
  • She saw no talons or beak, but a wanness which, indeed, suggested a skeleton.

    The Way of the Gods John Luther Long
  • She had been once eminently handsome, and but for the wanness and hollowness of her face, would have appeared so still.

  • The ghastly little skull-cap showed forth its wanness rigidly.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete George Meredith
  • There was exertion about every move of his body, the wanness and effort of vanished vitality; he balanced himself carefully.

    The Blind Spot Austin Hall
  • His forehead was high, and his temples broad; and he had a paleness in his complexion almost to wanness.

    Byron Richard Edgcumbe
  • About his large bright eyes that used to be so merry there was a wanness and a restlessness that changed them altogether.

    Bleak House

    Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for wanness


adjective wanner, wannest
unnaturally pale esp from sickness, grief, etc
characteristic or suggestive of ill health, unhappiness, etc
(of light, stars, etc) faint or dim
verb wans, wanning, wanned
to make or become wan
Derived Forms
wanly, adverb
wanness, noun
Word Origin
Old English wann dark; related to wanian to wane


wide area network
Nigeria (international car registration)
Word Origin
From W(est) A(frica) N(igeria)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wanness



Old English wann "dark, lacking luster," later "leaden, pale, gray," of uncertain origin, and not found in other Germanic languages. The connecting notion is colorlessness. Perhaps related to wane.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wanness in Science
Short for wide area network.A communications network that uses such devices as telephone lines, satellite dishes, or radio waves to span a larger geographic area than can be covered by a LAN. The Internet is a WAN.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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