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[won] /wɒn/
adjective, wanner, wannest.
of an unnatural or sickly pallor; pallid; lacking color:
His wan face suddenly flushed.
showing or suggesting ill health, fatigue, unhappiness, etc.:
a wan look; a wan smile.
lacking in forcefulness, competence, or effectiveness:
their wan attempts to organize the alumni.
  1. dark or gloomy.
  2. pale in color or hue.
verb (used with or without object), wanned, wanning.
to become or make wan.
Origin of wan1
before 900; Middle English; Old English wann dark, gloomy
Related forms
wanly, adverb
wanness, noun
Can be confused
one, wan, won.
1. ashen. See pale1 . 3. feeble, weak, half-hearted, lame.
1. ruddy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wanly
Historical Examples
  • She faltered; touched an eye with her handkerchief; wanly smiled with the resigned martyrdom of a true gentlewoman.

    Once Aboard The Lugger Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
  • Desire smiled too, wanly and without the least approach to mirth.

  • There was the stir of morning, movement in the street; dawn touched them wanly, and hope held her yet.

    The Man Who Was Good Leonard Merrick
  • "You'd better take out the piano again," said Mrs. Brown wanly.

    More William Richmal Crompton
  • And the boy, wanly, but happily smiling, fell into a deep but healthy sleep.

    The Boy With the U. S. Fisheries Francis Rolt-Wheeler
  • And then, wanly grateful: "You are not the sort of man who lies convincingly, Steve."

  • Rosa baked a fine cake for him, decorating it tastefully with nine pink candles, but Wilbur regarded it wanly.

    Atlantic Narratives Mary Antin
  • "That's good," he said wanly, and he had a moment of physical dizziness that decided him to sit down quickly.

    The Magnificent Ambersons Booth Tarkington
  • "Not less than a table d'hote will hold you," Charity smiled, wanly.

    We Can't Have Everything Rupert Hughes
  • "I am very much discouraged over Mr. Bradlaugh," she admitted, wanly.

    The Story of a Pioneer Anna Howard Shaw
British Dictionary definitions for wanly


adjective wanner, wannest
unnaturally pale esp from sickness, grief, etc
characteristic or suggestive of ill health, unhappiness, etc
(of light, stars, etc) faint or dim
verb wans, wanning, wanned
to make or become wan
Derived Forms
wanly, adverb
wanness, noun
Word Origin
Old English wann dark; related to wanian to wane


wide area network
Nigeria (international car registration)
Word Origin
From W(est) A(frica) N(igeria)
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 wanly



Old English wann "dark, lacking luster," later "leaden, pale, gray," of uncertain origin, and not found in other Germanic languages. The connecting notion is colorlessness. Perhaps related to wane.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wanly in Science
Short for wide area network.A communications network that uses such devices as telephone lines, satellite dishes, or radio waves to span a larger geographic area than can be covered by a LAN. The Internet is a WAN.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Related Abbreviations for wanly


Nigeria (international vehicle ID)
wide area network
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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