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

  • intransitive verb To decrease gradually in size, number, strength, or intensity.
  • intransitive verb To show a progressively smaller illuminated area, as the moon does in passing from full to new.
  • intransitive verb To approach an end.
  • noun The act or process of gradually declining or diminishing.
  • noun A time or phase of gradual decrease.
  • noun The period of the decrease of the moon's illuminated visible surface.
  • noun A defective edge of a board caused by remaining bark or a beveled end.
  • idiom (on the wane) In a period of decline or decrease.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To decrease; be diminished: applied particularly to the periodical lessening of the illuminated part of the moon: opposed to wax.
  • To decline; fail; sink; approach an end.
  • To cause to decrease: lessen.
  • Wanting; lack ing; deficient.
  • noun Periodic decrease of the illuminated part of the moon; period of decreasing illumination.
  • noun Decline; failure; declension.
  • noun A beveled edge of a board or plank as sawn from an unsquared log, the bevel being caused by curvature of the log.
  • noun Same as wone.

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

  • intransitive verb To be diminished; to decrease; -- contrasted with wax, and especially applied to the illuminated part of the moon.
  • intransitive verb To decline; to fail; to sink.
  • transitive verb obsolete To cause to decrease.
  • noun The decrease of the illuminated part of the moon to the eye of a spectator.
  • noun Decline; failure; diminution; decrease; declension.
  • noun Prov. Eng. An inequality in a board.
  • noun (Forestry) The natural curvature of a log or of the edge of a board sawed from a log.

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

  • noun obsolete A house or dwelling.
  • noun Scotland, slang A child.
  • noun A gradual diminution in power, value, intensity etc.
  • noun The lunar phase during which the sun seems to illuminate less of the moon as its sunlit area becomes less visible from Earth.
  • noun literary The end of a period.
  • noun woodworking A rounded corner caused by lack of wood, often showing bark.
  • verb intransitive To progressively lose its splendor, value, ardor, power, intensity etc.; to decline.
  • verb intransitive Said of light that dims or diminishes in strength.
  • verb intransitive, astronomy Said of the Moon as its through the phases of its monthly cycle during which its visible surface is progressively decrease.
  • verb intransitive Said of a time period that comes to an end.
  • verb intransitive, archaic To decrease physically in size, amount, numbers or surface.
  • verb transitive, obsolete To cause to decrease.

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

  • verb become smaller
  • verb grow smaller
  • noun a gradual decline (in size or strength or power or number)
  • verb decrease in phase


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

[Middle English wanen, from Old English wanian; see euə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English wōne, wāne ("dwelling," "custom"), of unclear origins, compare wont.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Scots wean.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The noun is derived from Old English wana ("defect, shortage"); the verb, from Old English wanian via Middle English wanien. Both ultimately trace to a Germanic root *wano-, compare also German Wahn ("insanity") deprecated defect, Old Norse vanr ("lacking") ( > Danish prefix van-, only found in compounds), Latin vanus, Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐌽𐍃 (wans, "missing, lacking"), Albanian vonë ("late, futile, mentally retarded"), Armenian ունայն (unayn, "empty"), Old High German wanon ("to decrease"), Modern German weniger ("less"), comparative of wenig ("few") ("-ig" being a derivatem suffix, "-er" the suffix of comparatives)


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word wane.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • memory wanes with old age; in one word senelity.

    August 2, 2009