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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become worse.
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Origin of worsen

First recorded in 1175–1225, worsen is from the Middle English word worsenen. See worse, -en1
Can be confusedaggravate annoy intensify irritate worsen (see synonym study at aggravate)aggravation annoyance intensification irritation worsening


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

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Examples from the Web for worsens

Historical Examples

  • Which worsens the state of poor old Father Hirsch; threatening now really to die, of heart-break and other causes.

    History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Vol. XVI. (of XXI.)

    Thomas Carlyle

  • Every act of selfish pleasure-seeking, untouched by nobler aims, weakens and worsens the soul's life.

British Dictionary definitions for worsens


  1. to grow or cause to grow worse
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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 worsens



"to make worse," Old English wyrsian, from the root of worse. The reflexive sense of "to get worse, become worse off" first attested 1795 and elevated into literary use c.1800-30, where formerly worse (v.) had served. Related: Worsened; worsening.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper