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[lang-gwish] /ˈlæŋ gwɪʃ/
verb (used without object)
to be or become weak or feeble; droop; fade.
to lose vigor and vitality.
to undergo neglect or experience prolonged inactivity; suffer hardship and distress:
to languish in prison for ten years.
to be subjected to delay or disregard; be ignored:
a petition that languished on the warden's desk for a year.
to pine with desire or longing.
to assume an expression of tender, sentimental melancholy.
the act or state of languishing.
a tender, melancholy look or expression.
Origin of languish
1250-1300; Middle English < Middle French languiss-, long stem of languirLatin languēre to languish; akin to laxus lax; see -ish2
Related forms
languisher, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for languish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And though the revel must languish, yet we attend the refrain of all the melodies in crowning rapture.

  • He regards them as vermin to be left to languish and die of their festering wounds.

    Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini
  • In short, the commandant seemed to languish, and ten times a day lay down on his couch.

    Six Women and the Invasion Gabrielle Yerta
  • When taken to warm climates, they languish, and soon die of disease of the liver.

    The Plant Hunters Mayne Reid
  • He left that rose, thanks to me and my successful efforts, to languish unnoticed in its lover's knot of pale blue.

    The Inner Sisterhood Douglass Sherley et al.
British Dictionary definitions for languish


verb (intransitive)
to lose or diminish in strength or energy
(often foll by for) to be listless with desire; pine
to suffer deprivation, hardship, or neglect: to languish in prison
to put on a tender, nostalgic, or melancholic expression
Derived Forms
languishing, adjective
languishingly, adverb
languishment, noun
Word Origin
C14 languishen, from Old French languiss-, stem of languir, ultimately from Latin languēre
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
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Word Origin and History for languish

early 14c., "fail in strength, exhibit signs of approaching death," from languiss-, present participle stem of Old French languir "be listless, pine, grieve, fall ill," from Vulgar Latin *languire, from Latin languere "be weak or faint" (see lax). Weaker sense "be lovesick, grieve, lament, grow faint," is from mid-14c. Related: Languished; languishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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