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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English wenen, from Old English wenian(to accustom; habituate; train; prepare; make fit), from Proto-Germanic *wanjaną(to make wont; accustom), from Proto-Indo-European *wenh₁-(to strive for; wish; love). Cognate with Dutch wennen, German gewöhnen, Danish vænne, Swedish vänja, Icelandic venja. Related to wone.


wean (third-person singular simple present weans, present participle weaning, simple past and past participle weaned)

  1. (transitive) To cease giving milk to an offspring; to accustom and reconcile (a child or young animal) to a want or deprivation of mother's milk; to take from the breast or udder.
    The cow has weaned her calf.
    • Bible, Genesis xxi. 8
      Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
  2. (intransitive) To cease to depend on the mother for nourishment.
    The kittens are finally weaning.
  3. (transitive, by extension) To cause to quit something to which one is addicted or habituated.
    He managed to wean himself off heroin.
    • Jonathan Swift
      The troubles of age were intended [] to wean us gradually from our fondness of life.
  4. (intransitive, by extension) To cease to depend.
    She is weaning from her addiction to tobacco.
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Etymology 2[edit]

Blend of wee +‎ ane.


wean (plural weans)

  1. (Scotland) A small child.
    • 2008, James Kelman, Kieron Smith, Boy, Penguin 2009, p. 92:
      Pigs, cows and sheep and wee ducks, that was what he bought and it was just for weans and wee lasses. I said it to my maw.
      Oh it is not weans it is children. Oh Kieron, it is children and girls, do not say weans and lasses.
    • Elizabeth Browning
      I, being but a yearling wean.


Old English[edit]



wēan m

  1. nominative plural of wēa
  2. accusative singular of wēa
  3. accusative plural of wēa
  4. genitive singular of wēa
  5. dative singular of wēa



wee +‎ ane



wean (plural weans)

  1. young child


Derived terms[edit]