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verb (used without object), waned, wan·ing.
  1. to decrease in strength, intensity, etc.: Daylight waned, and night came on. Her enthusiasm for the cause is waning.
  2. to decline in power, importance, prosperity, etc.: Colonialism began to wane after World War II.
  3. to draw to a close; approach an end: Summer is waning.
  4. (of the moon) to decrease periodically in the extent of its illuminated portion after the full moon.Compare wax2(def 2).
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  1. a gradual decrease or decline in strength, intensity, power, etc.
  2. the drawing to a close of life, an era, a period, etc.
  3. the waning of the moon.
  4. a period of waning.
  5. a defect in a plank or board characterized by bark or insufficient wood at a corner or along an edge, due to the curvature of the log.
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  1. on the wane, decreasing; diminishing: The popularity of that song is on the wane.
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Origin of wane

before 900; Middle English wanen (v.), Old English wanian to lessen; cognate with Middle Dutch, Middle High German wanen, Old Norse vana to cause to wane, destroy
Related formsun·waned, adjectiveun·wan·ing, adjective
Can be confusedwane wax

Synonyms for wane

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

Related Words for waning

lessening, abating, ebbing, declinatory, decrescent

Examples from the Web for waning

Contemporary Examples of waning

Historical Examples of waning

British Dictionary definitions for waning


verb (intr)
  1. (of the moon) to show a gradually decreasing portion of illuminated surface, between full moon and new moonCompare wax 2 (def. 2)
  2. to decrease gradually in size, strength, power, etc
  3. to draw to a close
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  1. a decrease, as in size, strength, power, etc
  2. the period during which the moon wanes
  3. the act or an instance of drawing to a close
  4. a rounded surface or defective edge of a plank, where the bark was
  5. on the wane in a state of decline
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Derived Formswaney or wany, adjective

Word Origin for wane

Old English wanian (vb); related to wan-, prefix indicating privation, wana defect, Old Norse vana
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 waning


Old English wanunge, wonunge, present participle of wanian (see wane).

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Old English wanian "make or become smaller gradually," from Proto-Germanic *wanojanan (cf. Old Saxon wanon, Old Norse vana, Old Frisian wania, Middle Dutch waenen, Old High German wanon "to wane, to grow less"), from *wano- "lacking," from PIE *we-no-, from root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out" (see vain). Related: Waned; waning; wanes.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with waning


see wax and wane.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.