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From the present participle stem of Anglo-Norman and Middle French languir, from Late Latin *languire, alteration of Latin languēre (to be faint, unwell). Compare languor.



languish (third-person singular simple present languishes, present participle languishing, simple past and past participle languished)

  1. (intransitive) To lose strength and become weak; to be in a state of weakness or sickness. [from 14th c.]
    • Bible, 2 Esdras viii. 31
      We [] do languish of such diseases.
  2. (intransitive) To pine away in longing for something; to have low spirits, especially from lovesickness. [from 14th c.]
    He languished without his girlfriend
  3. (intransitive) To live in miserable or disheartening conditions. [from 15th c.]
    He languished in prison for years
  4. (intransitive) To be neglected; to make little progress, be unsuccessful. [from 17th c.]
    The case languished for years before coming to trial.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To make weak; to weaken, devastate. [15th-17th c.]
  6. (intransitive, now rare) To affect a languid air, especially disingenuously. [from 18th c.]
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma
      He is an excellent young man, and will suit Harriet exactly: it will be an "exactly so," as he says himself; but he does sigh and languish, and study for compliments rather more than I could endure as a principal.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Tennyson to this entry?)

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