[ fes-ter ]
See synonyms for: festerfesteredfestering on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object)
  1. to form pus; generate purulent matter; suppurate.

  2. to cause ulceration, as a foreign body in the flesh.

  1. to putrefy or rot.

  2. to rankle, as a feeling of resentment.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to rankle: Malice festered his spirit.

  1. an ulcer; a rankling sore.

  2. a small, purulent, superficial sore.

Origin of fester

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English festir, festre<Anglo-French, Old French festre<Latin fistulafistula (for -l->-r-cf. chapter); (v.) Middle English festryn, derivative of the noun or <Old French festrir

Other words from fester

  • un·fes·tered, adjective
  • un·fes·ter·ing, adjective

Words Nearby fester

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fester in a sentence

  • Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips and the nails worked loose.

    The Home of the Blizzard | Douglas Mawson
  • The wrong done the body politic may fester unseen, but it festers on all the same.

  • Only such carrion as this was left to fester upon the earth, to poison the lives of decent men and women.

    A Sheaf of Corn | Mary E. Mann
  • The enemies of their fellows are bred, not in deserts, but in cities, where human creatures fester together in heaps.

    Impressions And Comments | Havelock Ellis
  • There are words a man has no power or wish to say to a man, yet which must be spoken or they fester in his mind.

British Dictionary definitions for fester


/ (ˈfɛstə) /

  1. to form or cause to form pus

  2. (intr) to become rotten; decay

  1. to become or cause to become bitter, irritated, etc, esp over a long period of time; rankle: resentment festered his imagination

  2. (intr) informal to be idle or inactive

  1. a small ulcer or sore containing pus

Origin of fester

C13: from Old French festre suppurating sore, from Latin: fistula

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