Origin of wish

before 900; (v.) Middle English wisshen, Old English wȳscan; cognate with German wünschen, Old Norse æskja; akin to Old English wynn joy (see winsome), Latin venus charm (see Venus); (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related formswish·er, nounwish·less, adjectivein·ter·wish, verb (used with object), nounout·wish, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for wish

1. crave. 5. direct, order. 12. will, want.

Synonym study

1. Wish, desire, want indicate a longing for something. To wish is to feel an impulse toward attainment or possession of something; the strength of the feeling may be of greater or lesser intensity: I wish I could go home. Desire, a more formal word, suggests a strong wish: They desire a new regime. Want, usually colloquial in use, suggests a feeling of lack or need that imperatively demands fulfillment: People all over the world want peace.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wish

Contemporary Examples of wish

Historical Examples of wish

  • "It is partly for your sake that I wish it, my poor child," said he.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • “I wish they may not be in league with them,” said Master Headley.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • I wish we might have talked more—I'm sure—when are you leaving?

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I wish my father had intrusted his money to you instead of to the superintendent.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • "If there were any use in wishing, I'd wish myself on shore," said the second.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for wish



(when tr, takes a clause as object or an infinitive; when intr, often foll by for) to want or desire (something, often that which cannot be or is not the case)I wish I lived in Italy; to wish for peace
(tr) to feel or express a desire or hope concerning the future or fortune ofI wish you well
(tr) to desire or prefer to be as specified
(tr) to greet as specified; bidhe wished us good afternoon
(tr) formal to order politelyI wish you to come at three o'clock


the act of wishing; the expression of some desire or mental inclinationto make a wish
something desired or wished forhe got his wish
(usually plural) expressed hopes or desire, esp for someone's welfare, health, etc
(often plural) formal a polite order or request
See also wish on
Derived Formswisher, nounwishless, adjective

Word Origin for wish

Old English wӯscan; related to Old Norse öskja, German wünschen, Dutch wenschen
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 wish

Old English wyscan "to wish," from Proto-Germanic *wunskijanan (cf. Old Norse æskja, Danish ønske, Swedish önska, Middle Dutch wonscen, Dutch wensen, Old High German wunsken, German wunschen "to wish"), from PIE *wun-/*wen-/*won- "to strive after, wish, desire, be satisfied" (cf. Sanskrit vanati "he desires, loves, wins," Latin venus "love, sexual desire, loveliness," venerari "to worship;" see Venus). The noun is attested from c.1300. Wish fulfillment (1901) translates German wunscherfüllung (Freud, "Die Traumdeutung," 1900).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wish


In addition to the idiom beginning with wish

  • wish on

also see:

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