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wither

[with-er]
See more synonyms for wither on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to shrivel; fade; decay: The grapes had withered on the vine.
  2. to lose the freshness of youth, as from age (often followed by away).
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make flaccid, shrunken, or dry, as from loss of moisture; cause to lose freshness, bloom, vigor, etc.: The drought withered the buds.
  2. to affect harmfully: Reputations were withered by the scandal.
  3. to abash, as by a scathing glance: a look that withered him.
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Origin of wither

1250–1300; Middle English, perhaps variant of weather (v.)
Related formswith·ered·ness, nounwith·er·er, nounwith·er·ing·ly, adverbnon·with·er·ing, adjectiveo·ver·with·ered, adjectiveun·with·ered, adjectiveun·with·er·ing, adjective
Can be confusedweather whether whither wither (see synonym study at the current entry)whither wither

Synonyms

See more synonyms for wither on Thesaurus.com
1. wrinkle, shrink, dry, decline, languish, droop, waste. Wither, shrivel imply a shrinking, wilting, and wrinkling. Wither (of plants and flowers) is to dry up, shrink, wilt, fade, whether as a natural process or as the result of exposure to excessive heat or drought: Plants withered in the hot sun. Shrivel, used of thin, flat objects and substances, such as leaves, the skin, etc., means to curl, roll up, become wrinkled: The leaves shrivel in cold weather. Paper shrivels in fire. 5. humiliate, shame.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for withering

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "That's Episcopal," Pee-wee said with withering superiority!

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • The hair was sandy; half of it had been burned to the scalp in a withering flame.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • They seem to see the withering effect of criticism on original genius.

  • But to his field repaired each day to view his withering crop.

  • The elaborate sarcasm of these questions was intended to be withering.

    The Woman-Haters

    Joseph C. Lincoln


British Dictionary definitions for withering

wither

verb
  1. (intr) (esp of a plant) to droop, wilt, or shrivel up
  2. (intr often foll by away) to fade or wasteall hope withered away
  3. (intr) to decay, decline, or disintegrate
  4. (tr) to cause to wilt, fade, or lose vitality
  5. (tr) to abash, esp with a scornful look
  6. (tr) to harm or damage
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Derived Formswithered, adjectivewitherer, nounwithering, adjectivewitheringly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: perhaps variant of weather (vb); related to German verwittern to decay
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 withering

wither

v.

1530s, alteration of Middle English wydderen "dry up, shrivel" (c.1300), apparently a differentiated and special use of wederen "to expose to weather" (see weather). Cf. German verwittern "to become weather-beaten," from Witter "weather."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper