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).

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.


  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

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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