noun (used with a plural verb)
the highest part of the back at the base of the neck of a horse, cow, sheep, etc. See diag. under dog, horse.
wring one's withers, to cause one anxiety or trouble: The long involved lawsuit is wringing his withers.

1535–45; origin uncertain

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verb (used without object)
to shrivel; fade; decay: The grapes had withered on the vine.
to lose the freshness of youth, as from age (often followed by away ).
verb (used with object)
to make flaccid, shrunken, or dry, as from loss of moisture; cause to lose freshness, bloom, vigor, etc.: The drought withered the buds.
to affect harmfully: Reputations were withered by the scandal.
to abash, as by a scathing glance: a look that withered him.

1250–1300; Middle English, perhaps variant of weather (v.)

witheredness, noun
witherer, noun
witheringly, adverb
nonwithering, adjective
overwithered, adjective
unwithered, adjective
unwithering, adjective

1. weather, whether, whither, wither (see synonym study at the current entry) ; 2. whither, wither.

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.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wither (ˈwɪðə)
vb (often foll by away)
1.  (intr) (esp of a plant) to droop, wilt, or shrivel up
2.  to fade or waste: all 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
[C14: perhaps variant of weather (vb); related to German verwittern to decay]

withers (ˈwɪðəz)
pl n
the highest part of the back of a horse, behind the neck between the shoulders
[C16: short for widersones, from widerwith + -sones, perhaps variant of sinew; related to German Widerrist, Old English withre resistance]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1530s, alteration of M.E. wydderen "dry up, shrivel" (c.1300), apparently a differentiated and special use of wederen "to expose to weather" (see weather). Cf. Ger. verwittern "to become weather-beaten," from Witter "weather."

1580, probably from a dialectal survival of O.E. 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. Ger. Widerrist "withers," from wider "against" + Rist "wrist."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The ravaged plant then withers and dies, its grains shriveled into useless
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.
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