verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to cause to rankle: Malice festered his spirit.


an ulcer; a rankling sore.
a small, purulent, superficial sore.

Origin of fester

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English festir, festre < Anglo-French, Old French festre < Latin fistula fistula (for -l- > -r- cf. chapter); (v.) Middle English festryn, derivative of the noun or < Old French festrir
Related formsun·fes·tered, adjectiveun·fes·ter·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for festered

Contemporary Examples of festered

Historical Examples of festered

  • It had festered like an abscess and the abscess had burst, splashing every one.

  • Latterly the wound had festered, and gave him agonising pain.

    The Lively Poll

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • Her wounds stiffened and festered from imbedded shot, and she was dry and feverish.

    The Yellow Horde

    Hal G. Evarts

  • It festered so deeply that she could not speak of it to Johnny's father.

    An Old Chester Secret

    Margaret Deland

  • I had this grievance, and it festered and raised the whole temperature of my hate.


    Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

British Dictionary definitions for festered



to form or cause to form pus
(intr) to become rotten; decay
to become or cause to become bitter, irritated, etc, esp over a long period of time; rankleresentment festered his imagination
(intr) informal to be idle or inactive


a small ulcer or sore containing pus

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for festered



late 14c., from Old French festre "small sore discharging pus," from Latin fistula "pipe, ulcer" (see fistula). The noun is from c.1300. Related: Festered; festering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

festered in Medicine




To ulcerate.
To form pus; putrefy.


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