Definition of languish in English:


See synonyms for languish

Translate languish into Spanish

intransitive verb

[no object]
  • 1(of a person or other living thing) lose or lack vitality; grow weak or feeble.

    ‘plants may appear to be languishing simply because they are dormant’
    • ‘If your pet dog would truly languish in the wild, as a stray, you might be able to meet the comparable-life condition without meeting, say, his needs for adequate stimulation, exercise, and contact with other dogs.’
    • ‘Aside from all this, a linden tree languishes at the inside corner of the last dogleg, just at the turn of the river, blocking the direct route to the green.’
    • ‘Once again - many of those plants may simply languish in your garden's growing conditions.’
    • ‘The 29.5lb predator gave Brockhole's maintenance manager Don Hunt a ‘big surprise’ as he found the fish languishing on the lake shore.’
    • ‘Hundreds of thousands of animals languish in zoos around the world.’
    • ‘Because field crops, like potted plants, languish when they're over-watered, proper drainage is an important aspect of successful farming.’
    • ‘His power over her is such that when he dies her voice collapses, she loses her eminence, languishes, and finally dies herself.’
    • ‘Howard didn't know how long he'd languished, lost in misery.’
    • ‘Get it right and no one notices; get it wrong and plants languish and die in boggy beds, huge puddles kill lawn, and in the worst case scenario you awake to the slap and gurgle of water in the basement.’
    • ‘Conversely plants that languish in the too hot summer can survive happily in a shadier place with more humidity and slightly damper soil.’
    • ‘Zoo animals languish away in captivity, showing us nothing of their true natural behavior.’
    • ‘Lawns remained uncut, gardens unweeded and crops languished in the field.’
    • ‘Over time, he languishes and grows melancholy.’
    • ‘The mistletoe is dependent on the apple and a few other trees, but can only in a far-fetched sense be said to struggle with these trees, for if too many of these parasites grow on the same tree, it will languish and die.’
    • ‘Thousands of other sick people languishing on transplant waiting lists across the country are not so lucky.’
    • ‘The potential new species strides ahead up the fitness curve, leaving its more poorly-adapted predecessors languishing behind, to the point when they are driven to extinction.’
    • ‘We fade, lose heart, become torpid, languish, then the sap rises again, and we are passionate.’
    • ‘Most of those imprisoned languished into ill health, many losing their lives due to total disregard.’
    • ‘Plants that need moist soil will languish in sandy, dry soil, for example.’
    • ‘Animals caught in inhumane traps will languish not for hours, but for days.’
    weaken, grow weak, deteriorate, decline, go into a decline
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    1. 1.1Fail to make progress or be successful.
      ‘foreign stocks are still languishing’
      • ‘Saturday's home defeat to a side which was bottom of the Conference was the final straw, following a start to the season that has seen City languishing near the bottom of the table claiming just 16 points from 16 games.’
      • ‘At the back however - even against an impoverished Hearts' display - there was no shortage of evidence as to why Killie are languishing near the bottom of the table.’
      • ‘Although the team are languishing near the bottom of the third division, I am still very proud to be a York fan, and the other week when we beat Reading in the Cup I was so happy I had tears in my eyes.’
      • ‘Two goals in each half from the league leaders saw Newry brushed aside with consummate ease and keeps the City languishing near the bottom of the table.’
      • ‘Sligo has been languishing near the bottom from the start.’
      • ‘Both are at home against teams languishing near the bottom, and both need maximum points to count themselves in to the final week.’
      • ‘Schools in such deprived areas as Drumchapel languish near the bottom reaches of the system, if you rely purely on the percentages of pupils passing Higher and Standard Grade exams.’
      • ‘The Hurricanes no longer have to languish near the bottom of the points table.’
      • ‘The cold, hard facts are that the Bulls now languish mid table after dropping both of their Easter weekend matches against the competition's top two clubs.’
      • ‘I know for a fact that there are simply far too many good Kiwi websites that are languishing through lack of adequate promotion.’
      • ‘For companies with equity capital or revenue streams, government funds can be used to advance mainstream projects or to develop projects that could otherwise languish for lack of monetary resources.’
      • ‘And Boavista, who are languishing 40 points below Porto in 10th spot in the league, have only scored more league goals this season than one side, Sporting Braga.’
      • ‘In the third quarter of last year, gross value added by Scotland's financial services industry was still languishing below the levels set a year earlier.’
      • ‘I expect Peters' vote to languish below the 5% mark as a result of this.’
      • ‘Despite gaining a bonus point, South Africa's Bulls hopes of reaching the semifinals appear dashed as they languish mid-table on 23 points.’
      • ‘I had no illusions about winning a cash prize, but having played prop forward for an RAF rugby team in Holland during my salad days, and being aware that the Wasps were languishing near the bottom of their league, I agreed.’
      • ‘Have your investments languished because of low interest rates and a lethargic stock market?’
      • ‘And as the public sector grew, the private sector languished.’
      • ‘We watch key centres - such as Sydney - grow almost in spite of themselves while other cities languish in a global world which doesn't much care what the place used to be, only what it can become.’
      • ‘For years afterward, the index languished below the century mark as the economy slowed and inflation ravaged consumers' buying power.’
    2. 1.2 archaic Pine with love or grief.
      ‘she still languished after Richard’
      • ‘I have seen children all over the world languishing for love, and care, and giving.’
      pine for, yearn for, ache for, long for, sigh for, desire, want, hanker after, carry a torch for
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    3. 1.3 archaic Assume or display a sentimentally tender or melancholy expression or tone.
      • ‘when a visitor comes in, she smiles and languishes’
  • 2Suffer from being forced to remain in an unpleasant place or situation.

    ‘he has been languishing in jail since 1974’
    • ‘According to official figures, around 250,000 old appliances will be languishing in storage by the end of the year because of an EU directive demanding the safe disposal of the harmful chemicals they contain.’
    • ‘They were eager to unearth every scrap of information, many having high hopes that they were related to someone rich and famous with an unclaimed fortune languishing in a long-forgotten bank account just begging to be collected.’
    • ‘Supporters of democracy must firmly challenge that dangerous illusion and remind the world of the dissidents languishing in Cuban jails, many of whom have become seriously ill after being confined for long periods in dank cells.’
    • ‘Our real reformers are among the 600,000 languishing in prison, or the hundreds of candidates who are disqualified in each election for believing in human rights or secularism.’
    • ‘An estimated 400 000 people have fled into neighbouring Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast and have been languishing in refugee camps, the sites of frequent unrest.’
    • ‘Briefly, I'm inundated with other matters, which also explains why so many e-mails are languishing in the ‘To Be Answered’ folder.’
    • ‘While resources are squandered on these high-profile initiatives, patients are queuing up on casualty trolleys awaiting admission, or languishing in dirty hospital wards after months of waiting.’
    • ‘As the nation observed the fifth anniversary of the victory in Kargil, a mother made a fervent appeal to the President for expediting the process of bringing back her son languishing in a Pakistani jail as a prisoner of war.’
    • ‘The aircraft has been languishing in a hangar on a wartime airfield at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire where enthusiasts have so far raised £400,000 to keep it well-maintained.’
    • ‘These children are languishing in prisons with no one fighting for their rights, and we want to give them a voice and make sure that their rights are upheld.’
    • ‘In terms of human suffering the bomb blast case is far worse then any other trial in India - several wrongly implicated persons are languishing in jail for seven years along with hardened criminals.’
    • ‘Moreover, they are impeding humanitarian access to something approaching one million people who are languishing in camps desperately short of food and medicine.’
    • ‘A 35-year-old Briton languishing in a Bangkok jail under sentence of death for a crime he says he did not commit is planning to protest his innocence by refusing to plead for a royal pardon.’
    • ‘And while they are now finally in a permanent home, hundreds of Scottish children are left languishing in what adoption experts call a ‘planning limbo’.’
    • ‘In short, if bail were set in this capital case, the Dog would languish in jail for lack of it.’
    • ‘Some of this cruelty still disturbs me, but at least it's honest: and much less hypocritical than the cruelty of the British food industry where consumers buy their meat safe and sanitised while the animals languish in battery pens.’
    • ‘Dozens of former FNL child soldiers associated with the National Liberation Forces (Forces Nationales pour la Libération, or FNL) languish in government custody - in prisons, jails, and a newly opened welcome center for former FNL combatants - without any clarity of their legal status or knowledge of when they might be returned to their families.’
    • ‘There is a paragraph in the appellant's submissions that refers to the unacceptability of simply allowing a person to languish in detention.’
    • ‘After storming out of the academy, it appeared he would be doomed forever to languish in the ranks of domestic cricket and any chance of representing his country was gone.’
    waste away, rot, decay, wither away, moulder, be abandoned, be neglected, be forgotten, suffer
    View synonyms



/ˈlaNGɡwiSH/ /ˈlæŋɡwɪʃ/


Middle English (in the sense ‘become faint, feeble, or ill’): from Old French languiss-, lengthened stem of languir ‘languish’, from a variant of Latin languere, related to laxus ‘loose, lax’.