or wear·out

See more synonyms for wear-out on Thesaurus.com

Origin of wear-out

First recorded in 1895–1900; noun use of verb phrase wear out


verb (used with object), wore, worn, wear·ing.
  1. to carry or have on the body or about the person as a covering, equipment, ornament, or the like: to wear a coat; to wear a saber; to wear a disguise.
  2. to have or use on the person habitually: to wear a wig.
  3. to bear or have in one's aspect or appearance: to wear a smile; to wear an air of triumph.
  4. to cause (garments, linens, etc.) to deteriorate or change by wear: Hard use has worn these gloves.
  5. to impair, deteriorate, or consume gradually by use or any continued process: Long illness had worn the bloom from her cheeks.
  6. to waste or diminish gradually by rubbing, scraping, washing, etc.: The waves have worn these rocks.
  7. to make (a hole, channel, way, etc.) by such action.
  8. to bring about or cause a specified condition in (a person or thing) by use, deterioration, or gradual change: to wear clothes to rags; to wear a person to a shadow.
  9. to weary; fatigue; exhaust: Toil and care soon wear the spirit.
  10. to pass (time) gradually or tediously (usually followed by away or out): We wore the afternoon away in arguing.
  11. Nautical. to bring (a vessel) on another tack by turning until the wind is on the stern.
  12. British Dialect. to gather and herd (sheep or cattle) to a pen or pasture.
verb (used without object), wore, worn, wear·ing.
  1. to undergo gradual impairment, diminution, reduction, etc., from wear, use, attrition, or other causes (often followed by away, down, out, or off).
  2. to retain shape, color, usefulness, value, etc., under wear, use, or any continued strain: a strong material that will wear; colors that wear well.
  3. (of time) to pass, especially slowly or tediously (often followed by on or away): As the day wore on, we had less and less to talk about.
  4. to have the quality of being easy or difficult to tolerate, especially after a relatively long association: It's hard to get to know him, but he wears well.
  5. Nautical. (of a vessel) to come round on another tack by turning away from the wind.
  6. Obsolete. to be commonly worn; to be in fashion.
  1. the act of wearing; use, as of a garment: articles for winter wear; I've had a lot of wear out of this coat; I had to throw away the shirt after only three wears.
  2. the state of being worn, as on the person.
  3. clothing or other articles for wearing; especially when fashionable or appropriate for a particular function (often used in combination): travel wear; sportswear.
  4. gradual impairment, wasting, diminution, etc., as from use: The carpet shows wear.
  5. the quality of resisting deterioration with use; durability.
Verb Phrases
  1. wear down,
    1. to reduce or impair by long wearing: to wear down the heels of one's shoes.
    2. to weary; tire: His constant talking wears me down.
    3. to prevail by persistence; overcome: to wear down the opposition.
  2. wear off, to diminish slowly or gradually or to diminish in effect; disappear: The drug began to wear off.
  3. wear out,
    1. to make or become unfit or useless through hard or extended use: to wear out clothes.
    2. to expend, consume, or remove, especially slowly or gradually.
    3. to exhaust, as by continued strain; weary: This endless bickering is wearing me out.
  1. wear thin,
    1. to diminish; weaken: My patience is wearing thin.
    2. to become less appealing, interesting, tolerable, etc.: childish antics that soon wore thin.

Origin of wear

before 900; (v.) Middle English weren to have (clothes) on the body, waste, damage, suffer waste or damage, Old English werian; cognate with Old Norse verja, Gothic wasjan to clothe; (noun) late Middle English were act of carrying on the body, derivative of the v.; akin to Latin vestis clothing (see vest)
Related formswear·er, nounre·wear, verb, re·wore, re·worn, re·wear·ing.

Synonyms for wear

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for wear out

break, decay, waste, wear, drain, tire

British Dictionary definitions for wear out

wear out

verb (adverb)
  1. to make or become unfit or useless through wear
  2. (tr) to exhaust or tire


  1. a river in NE England, rising in NW Durham and flowing southeast then northeast to the North Sea at Sunderland. Length: 105 km (65 miles)


verb wears, wearing, wore or worn
  1. (tr) to carry or have (a garment, etc) on one's person as clothing, ornament, etc
  2. (tr) to carry or have on one's person habituallyshe wears a lot of red
  3. (tr) to have in one's aspectto wear a smile
  4. (tr) to display, show, or flya ship wears its colours
  5. to deteriorate or cause to deteriorate by constant use or action
  6. to produce or be produced by constant rubbing, scraping, etcto wear a hole in one's trousers
  7. to bring or be brought to a specified condition by constant use or actionto wear a tyre to shreds
  8. (intr) to submit to constant use or action in a specified wayhis suit wears well
  9. (tr) to harass or weaken
  10. (when intr, often foll by on) (of time) to pass or be passed slowly
  11. (tr) British slang to acceptLarry won't wear that argument
  12. wear ship to change the tack of a sailing vessel, esp a square-rigger, by coming about so that the wind passes astern
  1. the act of wearing or state of being worn
    1. anything designed to be wornleisure wear
    2. (in combination)nightwear
  2. deterioration from constant or normal use or action
  3. the quality of resisting the effects of constant use
Derived Formswearer, noun

Word Origin for wear

Old English werian; related to Old High German werien, Old Norse verja, Gothic vasjan


verb wears, wearing, wore or worn
  1. nautical to tack by gybing instead of by going through stays

Word Origin for wear

C17: from earlier weare, of unknown origin
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 wear out



"action of wearing" (clothes), mid-15c., from wear (v.). Meaning "what one wears" is 1570s. To be the worse for wear is attested from 1782; noun phrase wear and tear is first recorded 1660s, implying the sense "process of being degraded by use."



Old English werian "to clothe, put on," from Proto-Germanic *wazjanan (cf. Old Norse verja, Old High German werian, Gothic gawasjan "to clothe"), from PIE *wes- "to clothe" (cf. Sanskrit vaste "he puts on," vasanam "garment;" Avestan vah-; Greek esthes "clothing," hennymi "to clothe," eima "garment;" Latin vestire "to clothe;" Welsh gwisgo, Breton gwiska; Old English wæstling "sheet, blanket;" Hittite washshush "garments," washanzi "they dress").

The Germanic forms "were homonyms of the vb. for 'prevent, ward off, protect' (Goth. warjan, O.E. werian, etc.), and this was prob. a factor in their early displacement in most of the Gmc. languages" [Buck]. Shifted from a weak verb (past tense and past participle wered) to a strong one (past tense wore, past participle worn) in 14c. on analogy of rhyming strong verbs such as bear and tear.

Secondary sense of "use up, gradually damage" (late 13c.) is from effect of continued use on clothes. To be the worse for wear is attested from 1782; noun phrase wear and tear is first recorded 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wear out

wear out


Become or cause to become unusable through long or heavy use, as in She wears out her shoes in no time, or The coupling in this device has worn out. [Early 1400s]


Exhaust, tire, as in I was worn out from packing all those books. Also see tired out. [First half of 1500s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with wear

  • wear and tear
  • wear another hat
  • wear down
  • wear off
  • wear one's heart on one's sleeve
  • wear out
  • wear out one's welcome
  • wear the pants
  • wear thin
  • wear two hats
  • wear well

also see:

  • hair shirt, wear a
  • if the shoe fits, wear it
  • none the worse for (wear)
  • worse for wear
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.