Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To decrease gradually in size, amount, intensity, or degree; decline.
  • intransitive v. To exhibit a decreasing illuminated area from full moon to new moon.
  • intransitive v. To approach an end.
  • n. The act or process of gradually declining or diminishing.
  • n. A time or phase of gradual decrease.
  • n. The period of the decrease of the moon's illuminated visible surface.
  • n. 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: "The tide was near the turn and already the day was on the wane” ( James Joyce).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. Periodic decrease of the illuminated part of the moon; period of decreasing illumination.
  • n. Decline; failure; declension.
  • n. A beveled edge of a board or plank as sawn from an unsquared log, the bevel being caused by curvature of the log.
  • Wanting; lack ing; deficient.
  • n. Same as wone.

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

  • v. become smaller
  • v. grow smaller
  • n. a gradual decline (in size or strength or power or number)
  • v. decrease in phase

Etymologies

Middle English wanen, from Old English wanian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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) (Wiktionary)
From Scots wean. (Wiktionary)
Middle English wōne, wāne ("dwelling," "custom"), of unclear origins, compare wont. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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