Definition of wither in English:


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  • 1no object (of a plant) become dry and shriveled.

    ‘the grass had withered to an unappealing brown’
    • ‘A slow descent into a long and murky winter; on my doorstep, the colourful leaves on the trees withered and fell, and there was no spring.’
    • ‘The same tree withers, droops and drops the dead leaves in autumn.’
    • ‘The plant's foliage withers back during the summer while pretty, orange-red berries appear in the fall.’
    • ‘He's so ugly his smile makes leaves fall off trees, grass wither and die, and animals flee in terror.’
    • ‘Many Tibetans believe that in ancient times Jiuzhaigou suffered such disasters that its mountains collapsed, trees and flowers withered and inhabitants fled.’
    • ‘And the evidence abounds: thick truncated trunks still pushing out new sprigs, charred stumps, and entire trees withering on the roadside.’
    • ‘Finally, an attempt is made to tie the episode of the fig tree withering to Homer.’
    • ‘An instant of heat and he was suddenly standing at the edge of a great expanse of grassland, the grass withered and blackened in places but generally a dry yellow.’
    • ‘The world suddenly became cold as the grass withered down to nothing.’
    • ‘Whenever he touched the ground the grass withered and died underneath his foot.’
    • ‘He sees the crops withered through drought and devoured by pests on a shrivelled land struggling to escape the paralysis of famine.’
    • ‘As autumn shows its tail, osmanthus flowers wither but the scent lingers, though not as fragrant as before.’
    • ‘Weeds wither within a few minutes (though perennial weeds will require repeat applications).’
    • ‘The delicate anicham flower withers when merely smelled, but an unwelcome look is enough to wither a guest's heart.’
    • ‘After all flowers have withered, cut off the entire stem.’
    • ‘Development of the tagged inflorescences was examined daily until the flowers had withered.’
    • ‘Staring in disbelief Kana realized that the flower had withered slowly beneath her touch.’
    • ‘This delicate flower will wither and blow away like dust in the wind if it's not watered with affection and the light of love doesn't shine.’
    • ‘Adolphus aimed the mouth of his flame-thrower at the flowered archway and let the flowers wither under the imagined flames of his mind, and he delighted in this.’
    • ‘Crops were withering, cattle were dying, and the river that once sculpted canyons was a trickle.’
    wilt, become limp, droop, fade
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    1. 1.1(of a person, limb, or the skin) become shrunken or wrinkled from age or disease.
      ‘the flesh had withered away’
      • ‘For the body withering under the polluted skies of the City, with all the energies drained by the daily rigmarole of life, this is manna from heaven!’
      • ‘His body was wrinkled and withered, slightly bent over and hunched.’
      • ‘He was dressed in only a pair of boxer shorts, his body withered and pale.’
      • ‘Her eyes were a pale red, her body seemed withered and drawn out, and she was constantly yawning.’
      • ‘The body might wither and die, but the thing that is the person, the essence, the soul lives on.’
      • ‘His body withered and shriveled like a prune in the sun, and, as Juktis watched, he turned into dust and was carried away to drift on the winds for all of eternity.’
      • ‘All the time Jeremiah talked, Mathias edged closer to the body, making the girl seem to shrink and wither before the size of him.’
      • ‘While bodies may wither, or fall ill, with age, the mind can remain good.’
      • ‘With no need for locomotion, the arms and legs withered into pencil thin stumps.’
      • ‘Nemeth was probably being taken to Tardonia, either to be ransomed or more likely to be unpleasantly executed, body charred and features withered by hostile magic.’
      • ‘Her fingers were old and withered, wrinkles and extra skin from weight loss that had happened too quickly made the effect even worse.’
      • ‘My friends' faces and arms tanned a beautiful bronze while my arms withered, blistered, burned and peeled.’
      • ‘His thin body is withered and frail, and he shivers in the cold night air.’
      • ‘Over the years, his muscles withered, his bones thinned, and he suffered repeated bouts of infection and life-threatening complications.’
      • ‘I am classic Northern/Celtic stock, and I wither in this weather.’
      • ‘Lord Keel was covered in several large wounds in his chest and his skin had withered and thinned as if he had been dried like a mannequin.’
      • ‘Her whole body seemed sucked dry of every liquid; she seemed withered in old age when she heard the two words that would forever change her life.’
      • ‘Prolonged boozing can actually eat away at a man's body, leaving his wedding tackle withered, his muscles punier and his bones weaker.’
      • ‘The other Guards stood back in horror as the man's body hit the floor, a gaunt, withered, specter of their own future.’
      • ‘Prominent community members wither and die in silence because the disease is considered so shameful.’
      waste, waste away, become shrunken, shrivel, shrivel up, atrophy, decay
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  • 2Cease to flourish; fall into decay or decline.

    ‘programs would wither away if they did not command local support’
    • ‘The pressure not to split the team into warring camps during such a season was withering, and it fell on both of them.’
    • ‘Phil Fontaine and Jane Stewart's Gathering Strength initiative began to wither.’
    • ‘For creativity is a muscle that must be worked or it will gradually atrophy and wither.’
    • ‘Players become shallow and lazy as important parts of their game wither and atrophy from disuse.’
    • ‘The blast withered to nothing as the attack stopped; Joshua fell from his position, hitting the ground with a dull thud.’
    • ‘The snaps between characters fall flat, and all other attempts at comedy simply wither and die.’
    • ‘The line of soldiers of Kalon began to wither and grow thin, only a few warriors remained and gaps in their lines were beginning to form as they were running out of men.’
    • ‘We in New Zealand, you know, used to be able to relax a bit, to be able to think that we would sit comfortably while the rest of the world seared, singed, withered.’
    • ‘Everything that had made me a beautiful, cheerful girl had withered and died on the twenty-third of June.’
    diminish, dwindle, shrink, lessen, fade, ebb, ebb away, wane, weaken, languish
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    1. 2.1with object Cause to decline or deteriorate; weaken.
      ‘a business that can wither the hardiest ego’
      • ‘It is not anti-Semitic, but it is about anti-Semitism and how the prejudice withers its perpetrators as well as their victims.’
      • ‘There are so many things that wither and devour the flesh.’
      • ‘Kelly was a conservative columnist known for withering criticisms of former president Bill Clinton and his vice president Al Gore, and also worked for the New Republic and Atlantic Monthly magazines.’
      • ‘A Hampshire airman will be proving that age certainly has not withered him when he pilots a replica First World War plane this weekend.’
      • ‘‘Age cannot wither her not custom stale her infinite variety’ said Shakespeare of his heroine Cleopatra.’
  • 3Mortify (someone) with a scornful look or manner.

    ‘she withered me with a look’
    • ‘With blazing and scornful eyes she fairly withered him by demanding whatever he meant by speaking to respectable people that way.’
    • ‘For those who see her withering her opponents with television soundbites, it comes as a surprise to find her sense of humour always bubbling close to the surface.’
    • ‘That Simpsons parody comes to mind: the state-of-the-art sonic blast withers the theater crowd, and cracks teeth.’
    • ‘For half a century Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau withered any rival in vocal range with an austere glare and an iron grip on recording opportunities.’
    • ‘Caroline merely tucked a curl behind her ear and withered him with a stare she had studied from Margaret Thatcher until he wilted completely.’
    • ‘Carrie withered her, and for a second Stevie was taken aback.’
    • ‘They are quite likely to see right through you and your feckless ways, like Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous withering Edina and Patsy with her magnificently polished disdain.’



/ˈwiT͟Hər/ /ˈwɪðər/


    wither on the vine
    • Fail to be implemented or dealt with because of neglect or inaction.

      ‘that resolution clearly withered on the vine’
      • ‘‘Talks have gone dead after the company looked at its figures again, and the deal has withered on the vine,’ said Mr Robinson.’
      • ‘The other route would see the fruits of eight years of growth wither on the vine through inaction and lack of imagination.’
      • ‘With the fruit withering on the vine, word came that a deal was being cut between Habbibi and Dostum.’
      • ‘And despite this summer's favorable Supreme Court ruling, school vouchers remain a scholastic Schindler's List - rescuing children one at a time while an entire generation of abandoned kids withers on the vine.’
      • ‘The objectionable institution of an advisory board is an appendage to a funding bill necessary to keep the underfunded Middle Eastern Studies programs from withering on the vine.’
      • ‘We have two great resources withering on the vine just at a time when the world is desperate to see if we can be as resourceful as the people who are perceived to be inundating us.’
      • ‘It will mean the withering on the vine of Tory opposition to UK membership of the euro.’
      • ‘It was the second phase of a development of the Coniston estate, and although the first phase, which included a 40 bedroom hotel, was swiftly completed, the golf course plan appears to have withered on the vine.’
      • ‘Other small live music venues just withered on the vine.’
      • ‘There was a danger they could have withered on the vine.’


Late Middle English apparently a variant of weather, ultimately differentiated for certain senses.