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

  • adj. Tending to overwhelm or destroy; devastating: withering sarcasm.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Tending to destroy, devastate, overwhelm or cause complete destruction.
  • adj. Diminishing rapidly.
  • adj. Tending to make someone feel small; scornful in a mortifying way.
  • v. Present participle of wither.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Tending to wither; causing to shrink or fade.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • The act or process denoted by the verb wither; specifically, in the manufacture of black tea, the operation of wilting the fresh leaf by exposing it, thinly spread, for some time to the air. Withering expels half the water from the leaf and fits it to endure rolling (which see) without breaking, also developing oxidation. See black tea.
  • Blasting; blighting; scorching: as, a withering glance; a withering wind.

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

  • adj. making light of
  • adj. wreaking or capable of wreaking complete destruction
  • n. any weakening or degeneration (especially through lack of use)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Called Faaafu, or _withering_, from the withering of the yam vine and other plants, which become coloured "like the shells."

    Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before

  • The venerable BBC -- Britain's state-funded television, radio and Internet media giant -- is set to sustain withering cuts of more than 16 percent of its budget, with even steeper reductions in government funding for the arts, including London museums and theaters.

    Britain plans $131 billion in spending cuts by 2015

  • He described the ceremony, which he felt rewarded box-office appeal over artistry, in withering terms:

    Lights, Camera, Action!

  • (And I state that with the utmost in withering sarcasm, because I've never seen a self-proclaimed "values voter" ever care about the public failure of private virtue in a "family-values" candidate.

    Sound Politics: Timing is everything

  • I am not a timid man, and I am fairly saavy – even got some book learnin – but after a 15 minute withering from the lawyer I was left wondering if this fictional show wasn’t a bit too close to the real thing.

    State of the Union « Scripting News Annex

  • Every time I think of it, I recall a withering Siskel reviewing it on TV in his last couple months of life and it breaks my heart.

    Another 10 Movies to Watch Stoned/High » Scene-Stealers

  • In a ruling that can only be called withering, district Judge Daniel Hovland contrasted "incidental and unintended" deaths during "legal, commercially-useful activity" with "hunting and poaching."

    Dodo of the Year

  • Bobbie afterwards described as withering glances of gloomy despair.

    The Railway Children

  • Or do you get the sense that perhaps this was not -- I mean, for example, landing in, you know, this isolated valley and coming under what was described as withering fire, was this something they were ready for?

    CNN Transcript Mar 16, 2002

  • Augusta regarded me with what could only be called a withering glare.

    Beacon Street Mourning


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  • I like the usage, "when she detected my arousal, her stern look caused my withering."

    April 18, 2007

  • SoG, I know a school counselor who owns a similar expression to use around misbehaving children (usually in restaurants rather than in school, however). ;-)

    April 18, 2007

  • My wife is a school teacher. Her withering look is a major class control tool.

    April 18, 2007