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[wish] /wɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to want; desire; long for (usually followed by an infinitive or a clause):
I wish to travel. I wish that it were morning.
to desire (a person or thing) to be (as specified):
to wish the problem settled.
to entertain wishes, favorably or otherwise, for:
to wish someone well; to wish someone ill.
to bid, as in greeting or leave-taking:
to wish someone a good morning.
to request or charge:
I wish him to come.
verb (used without object)
to desire; long; yearn (often followed by for):
Mother says I may go if I wish. I wished for a book.
to make a wish:
She wished more than she worked.
an act or instance of wishing.
a request or command:
I was never forgiven for disregarding my father's wishes.
an expression of a wish, often one of a kindly or courteous nature:
to send one's best wishes.
something wished or desired:
He got his wish—a new car.
Verb phrases
wish on,
  1. to force or impose (usually used in the negative):
    I wouldn't wish that awful job on my worst enemy.
  2. Also, wish upon. to make a wish using some object as a magical talisman:
    to wish on a star.
Origin of wish
before 900; (v.) Middle English wisshen, Old English wȳscan; cognate with German wünschen, Old Norse æskja; akin to Old English wynn joy (see winsome), Latin venus charm (see Venus); (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related forms
wisher, noun
wishless, adjective
interwish, verb (used with object), noun
outwish, verb (used with object)
1. crave. Wish, desire, want indicate a longing for something. To wish is to feel an impulse toward attainment or possession of something; the strength of the feeling may be of greater or lesser intensity: I wish I could go home. Desire, a more formal word, suggests a strong wish: They desire a new regime. Want, usually colloquial in use, suggests a feeling of lack or need that imperatively demands fulfillment: People all over the world want peace. 5. direct, order. 12. will, want. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have a wish to have wit and to reason about things with decent people.

  • "I wish we could stay and see the end of this," said one of the members.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • No one, however, had supposed that the Honorable Heman might wish to buy it.

    Cy Whittaker's Place Joseph C. Lincoln
  • "I wish you could see him in full action," Oscar was saying.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • I wish I could match up some of those pieces of White Canton, captain.

    Glory of Youth Temple Bailey
British Dictionary definitions for wish


when tr, takes a clause as object or an infinitive; when intr, often foll by for. to want or desire (something, often that which cannot be or is not the case): I wish I lived in Italy, to wish for peace
(transitive) to feel or express a desire or hope concerning the future or fortune of: I wish you well
(transitive) to desire or prefer to be as specified
(transitive) to greet as specified; bid: he wished us good afternoon
(transitive) (formal) to order politely: I wish you to come at three o'clock
the act of wishing; the expression of some desire or mental inclination: to make a wish
something desired or wished for: he got his wish
(usually pl) expressed hopes or desire, esp for someone's welfare, health, etc
(often pl) (formal) a polite order or request
See also wish on
Derived Forms
wisher, noun
wishless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English wӯscan; related to Old Norse öskja, German wünschen, Dutch wenschen
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 wish

Old English wyscan "to wish," from Proto-Germanic *wunskijanan (cf. Old Norse æskja, Danish ønske, Swedish önska, Middle Dutch wonscen, Dutch wensen, Old High German wunsken, German wunschen "to wish"), from PIE *wun-/*wen-/*won- "to strive after, wish, desire, be satisfied" (cf. Sanskrit vanati "he desires, loves, wins," Latin venus "love, sexual desire, loveliness," venerari "to worship;" see Venus). The noun is attested from c.1300. Wish fulfillment (1901) translates German wunscherfüllung (Freud, "Die Traumdeutung," 1900).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with wish


In addition to the idiom beginning with wish also see: if wishes were horses
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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