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withers

[with -erz] /ˈwɪð ərz/
noun, (used with a plural verb)
1.
the highest part of the back at the base of the neck of a horse, cow, sheep, etc.
Idioms
2.
wring one's withers, to cause one anxiety or trouble:
The long involved lawsuit is wringing his withers.
Origin
1535-1545
1535-45; origin uncertain

wither

[with -er] /ˈwɪð ər/
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)
3.
to make flaccid, shrunken, or dry, as from loss of moisture; cause to lose freshness, bloom, vigor, etc.:
The drought withered the buds.
4.
to affect harmfully:
Reputations were withered by the scandal.
5.
to abash, as by a scathing glance:
a look that withered him.
Origin
1250-1300; Middle English, perhaps variant of weather (v.)
Related forms
witheredness, noun
witherer, noun
witheringly, adverb
nonwithering, adjective
overwithered, adjective
unwithered, adjective
unwithering, adjective
Can be confused
weather, whether, whither, wither (see synonym study at the current entry)
whither, wither.
Synonyms
1. wrinkle, shrink, dry, decline, languish, droop, waste. Wither, shrivel imply a shrinking, wilting, and wrinkling. Wither (of plants and flowers) is to dry up, shrink, wilt, fade, whether as a natural process or as the result of exposure to excessive heat or drought: Plants withered in the hot sun. Shrivel, used of thin, flat objects and substances, such as leaves, the skin, etc., means to curl, roll up, become wrinkled: The leaves shrivel in cold weather. Paper shrivels in fire. 5. humiliate, shame.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for withers
  • The ravaged plant then withers and dies, its grains shriveled into useless pebbles.
  • But, in the end, the fish coughs him up and the gourd withers.
  • Bears, however, think profits will collapse as loan books shrink and capital-market activity withers.
  • With our bubbles in home equity and credit card debt now popped, aggregate demand withers.
  • Over time, the ability of government to deliver benefits withers.
  • The talent they began with withers as a plant would upon lacking sunlight or water.
  • It can flower in the mind even as it withers at your feet.
  • But it merely raised its hair on its withers and shook its horns and followed after the canoe.
  • She droops, she withers, she wastes away before the eye.
British Dictionary definitions for withers

withers

/ˈwɪðəz/
plural noun
1.
the highest part of the back of a horse, behind the neck between the shoulders
Word Origin
C16: short for widersones, from widerwith + -sones, perhaps variant of sinew; related to German Widerrist, Old English withre resistance

wither

/ˈwɪðə/
verb
1.
(intransitive) (esp of a plant) to droop, wilt, or shrivel up
2.
(intransitive) often foll by away. to fade or waste: all hope withered away
3.
(intransitive) to decay, decline, or disintegrate
4.
(transitive) to cause to wilt, fade, or lose vitality
5.
(transitive) to abash, esp with a scornful look
6.
(transitive) to harm or damage
Derived Forms
withered, adjective
witherer, noun
withering, adjective
witheringly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: perhaps variant of weather (vb); related to German verwittern to decay
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 withers
n.

1570s, probably from a dialectal survival of Old English wiðer "against, contrary, opposite" (see with) + plural suffix. Possibly so called because the withers are the parts of the animal that oppose the load. Cf. German Widerrist "withers," from wider "against" + Rist "wrist."

wither

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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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