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See also: Wish



From Middle English wisshen, wischen, wüschen, from Old English wȳsċan (to wish), from Proto-West Germanic *wunskijan, from Proto-Germanic *wunskijaną (to wish), from Proto-Indo-European *wun-, *wenh₁- (to wish, love).

Cognate with Scots wis (to wish), Saterland Frisian wonskje (to wish), West Frisian winskje (to wish), Dutch wensen (to wish), German wünschen (to wish), Danish ønske (to wish), Icelandic æskja, óska (to wish), Latin Venus, veneror (venerate, honour, love).



wish (plural wishes)

  1. A desire, hope, or longing for something or for something to happen.
  2. An expression of such a desire, often connected with ideas of magic and supernatural power.
  3. The thing desired or longed for.
    My dearest wish is to see them happily married.
    • 1901, W. W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
      "I suppose all old soldiers are the same," said Mrs White. "The idea of our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?" / "Might drop on his head from the sky," said the frivolous Herbert.
  4. (Sussex) A water meadow.

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wish (third-person singular simple present wishes, present participle wishing, simple past and past participle wished)

  1. (transitive) To desire; to want.
    I'll come tomorrow, if you wish it.
    • 2018 May 13, Justin King, “How to Fix the Storylines of Film and Television”, in Return of Kings:
      Showing the population what we wish them to be is the best way for them to change.
    • 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
      I would not wish / Any companion in the world but you.
    • 1716, Jonathan Swift, Phyllis, or the Progress of Love
      Now John the butler must be sent
      To learn the road that Phyllis went:
      The groom was wished to saddle Crop;
      For John must neither light nor stop,
      But find her, wheresoe'er she fled,
      And bring her back alive or dead.
    • 1899, Hughes Mearns, Antigonish:
      Yesterday, upon the stair / I met a man who wasn’t there / He wasn’t there again today / I wish, I wish he’d go away …
  2. (transitive, now rare) To hope (+ object clause with may or in present subjunctive).
    • 1748, Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, Letter 84:
      I wish he mean me well, that he takes so much pains!
    • 1808, Jane Austen, letter, 1 October:
      She hears that Miss Bigg is to be married in a fortnight. I wish it may be so.
  3. (intransitive, followed by for) To hope (for a particular outcome).
    • 1727, John Arbuthnot, Tables of Ancient Coins, Weights and Measures
      This is as good an argument as an antiquary could wish for.
    • 1901, W. W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
      Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. "I don't know what to wish for, and that's a fact," he said slowly. "It seems to me I've got all I want."
  4. (ditransitive) To bestow (a thought or gesture) towards (someone or something).
    We wish you a Merry Christmas.
  5. (intransitive, followed by to and an infinitive) To request or desire to do an activity.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
      Energy has seldom been found where we need it when we want it. Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.
  6. (transitive) To recommend; to seek confidence or favour on behalf of.

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  • wish at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • wish in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.