from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To generate pus; suppurate.
  • intransitive verb To form an ulcer.
  • intransitive verb To undergo decay; rot.
  • intransitive verb To be or become an increasing source of irritation or poisoning; rankle.
  • intransitive verb To be subject to or exist in a condition of decline.
  • intransitive verb To infect, inflame, or corrupt.
  • noun A small festering sore or ulcer; a pustule.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as festue.
  • noun An ulcer; a rankling sore; a small purulent tumor; more particularly, a superficial suppuration resulting from irritation of the skin, the pus being developed in vesicles of irregular figure and extent.
  • noun The act of festering or rankling.
  • To become a fester; generate purulent matter, as a wound; suppurate; ulcerate.
  • To become corrupt; generate rottenness; rot.
  • To become more and more virulent; rankle, as a feeling of resentment or hatred.
  • To cause to fester: as, exposure festers a wound.
  • To cause to rankle, as a feeling of resentment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cause to fester or rankle.
  • intransitive verb To generate pus; to become imflamed and suppurate.
  • intransitive verb To be inflamed; to grow virulent, or malignant; to grow in intensity; to rankle.
  • noun A small sore which becomes inflamed and discharges corrupt matter; a pustule.
  • noun A festering or rankling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To become septic; to become rotten.
  • verb To worsen, especially due to lack of attention.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a sore that has become inflamed and formed pus
  • verb ripen and generate pus


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English festren, from festre, fistula, from Old French, from Latin fistula.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French festre, from Latin fistula


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  • gunther's rage on the line at the BMW factory was mounting because the boss kept after him to work fester and fester.

    November 1, 2007

  • :-)

    November 1, 2007

  • Fester Bestertester, MAD magazine character.

    November 2, 2007

  • I had a small pet rodent named Fester. She was very lovely and tame.

    November 2, 2007

  • Wait--the definition of fester is a noun? I never heard that. I thought it was a verb, meaning to become inflamed/infected. Is it a noun as well?

    November 2, 2007

  • It can be both, according to WordNet (WordNet: sounds kind of Orwellian, no?).

    For a given word WordNet will tell you what part of speech is most common (its "polysemy count"), and it's usually spot on. I have the Word pages set up to figure out which part of speech is most common, and display that definition. This usually works, but for some reason it's claiming that the noun and verb forms of 'fester' have an equal polysemy count. Which strikes me as wrong: I agree with you, it's much more common as a verb.

    So, I guess WordNet ain't perfect. Better than nothing, though, I think. What do you think?

    November 2, 2007

  • I like it! Although I guess we're bound to see this kind of thing happen now and then.

    John, are you still planning on keeping the taggable parts of speech option now that you've set this up?

    November 2, 2007

  • This word, though somewhat grotesque is one of my all time favorites. Festering wound. Gives me chills.

    November 2, 2007

  • I'll post this somewhere else too, but John: I hope you DO keep the tagging option whether you keep the WordNet stuff or not.

    November 2, 2007

  • Oh, I meant only the POS tagging option, chained_bear. :-)

    November 2, 2007

  • So did I.

    November 2, 2007

  • Fester Bestertester! I remember him! (said Uncle Fester)

    December 15, 2007

  • Just be thankful that Bob's your uncle.

    September 27, 2011