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[ween] /win/
verb (used with object)
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.
Verb phrases
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
before 1000; Middle English wenen, Old English wenian; cognate with Dutch wennen, German gewöhnen, Old Norse venja to accustom
Related forms
[wee-nid-nis, weend-] /ˈwi nɪd nɪs, ˈwind-/ (Show IPA),
postweaning, adjective
preweaning, adjective
unweaned, adjective
Can be confused
wean, ween. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wean
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All too late his wife saw the blunder she had made, and tried to wean him back to sobriety.

    The Life of Thomas Wanless, Peasant Alexander Johnstone Wilson
  • No good can come of his intimacy with Bigot; Amlie, you must wean him from it.

    The Golden Dog William Kirby
  • They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God's holiness.

    Practical Religion John Charles Ryle
  • But I might have known that she could not, all at once, wean herself from the trumpery.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • Also, if Manley meant to wean them, she would have to see that they were fed and watered, she supposed.

    Lonesome Land B. M. Bower
British Dictionary definitions for wean


verb (transitive)
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
Derived Forms
weaning, noun
Word Origin
Old English wenian to accustom; related to German gewöhnen to get used to


/weɪn; wiːn/
(Scot & Northern English, dialect) a child; infant
Word Origin
a contraction of wee ane or perhaps a shortened form of weanling
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 wean

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wean in Medicine

wean (wēn)
v. weaned, wean·ing, weans

  1. To deprive permanently of breast milk and begin to nourish with other food.

  2. To accustom the young of a mammal to take nourishment other than by suckling.

  3. To gradually withdraw from a life-support system.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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