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  1. Pathology. a benign encysted tumor of the skin, especially on the scalp, containing sebaceous matter; a sebaceous cyst.
  2. British. a large, crowded city or a crowded urban district: London is the great wen of England.

Origin of wen1

before 1000; Middle English, Old English wenn; cognate with Dutch wen
Can be confusedwen when


  1. wynn.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wens

Historical Examples

  • Wens hain't nothin' that detract from a person's moral worth.

    Sweet Cicely

    Josiah Allen's Wife: Marietta Holley

  • Sebaceous cysts or wens are described with diseases of the skin.

    Manual of Surgery

    Alexis Thomson and Alexander Miles

  • In wens, cancers, and inflammations, new vessels are formed.

    Zoonomia, Vol. I

    Erasmus Darwin

  • These wens are considered hereditary in some families, and seem thus independent of situation.

    Across the Equator

    Thomas H. Reid

  • Again, we have seen that the police used to record the position of wens, tumours, tattoo marks and the like.


    Henry Faulds

British Dictionary definitions for wens


  1. pathol a sebaceous cyst, esp one occurring on the scalp
  2. a large overcrowded city (esp London in the phrase the great wen)

Word Origin

Old English wenn; related to Danish dialect van, væne, Dutch wenn


  1. a rune having the sound of Modern English w

Word Origin

Old English wen, wyn
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

Word Origin and History for wens



Old English wenn "a wen, wart," a West Germanic word (cf. Middle Low German wene, Dutch wen, dialectal German Wenne) of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wens in Medicine


  1. sebaceous cyst