AskDefine | Define wither

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wither \With"er\, v. t.
To cause to fade, and become dry. [1913 Webster] The sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth. --James i.
[1913 Webster]
To cause to shrink, wrinkle, or decay, for want of animal moisture. "Age can not wither her." --Shak. [1913 Webster] Shot forth pernicious fire Among the accursed, that withered all their strength. --Milton. [1913 Webster]
To cause to languish, perish, or pass away; to blight; as, a reputation withered by calumny. [1913 Webster] The passions and the cares that wither life. --Bryant. [1913 Webster]
Wither \With"er\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Withered; p. pr. & vb. n. Withering.] [OE. wideren; probably the same word as wederen to weather (see Weather, v. & n.); or cf. G. verwittern to decay, to be weather-beaten, Lith. vysti to wither.] [1913 Webster]
To fade; to lose freshness; to become sapless; to become sapless; to dry or shrivel up. [1913 Webster] Shall he hot pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? --Ezek. xvii.
[1913 Webster]
To lose or want animal moisture; to waste; to pin? away, as animal bodies. [1913 Webster] This is man, old, wrinkled, faded, withered. --Shak. [1913 Webster] There was a man which had his hand withered. --Matt. xii.
[1913 Webster] Now warm in love, now with'ring in the grave. --Dryden. [1913 Webster]
To lose vigor or power; to languish; to pass away. "Names that must not wither." --Byron. [1913 Webster] States thrive or wither as moons wax and wane. --Cowper. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 wither, especially with a loss of moisture; "The fruit dried and shriveled" [syn: shrivel, shrivel up, shrink]
2 lose freshness, vigor, or vitality; "Her bloom was fading" [syn: fade]

Moby Thesaurus

Sanforize, age, air-dry, anhydrate, attenuate, bake, blot, brush, burn, cave in, cheat the undertaker, collapse, constrict, consume, contract, cure, decline, deflate, dehumidify, dehydrate, desiccate, diminish, dodder, drain, droop, dry, dry up, dwindle, emacerate, emaciate, evaporate, exsiccate, fade, fade away, fail, fire, flag, fold, get along, get on, grow old, insolate, kiln, languish, lose strength, macerate, mummify, mummy, parch, peak, pine, preshrink, rub, run down, scorch, sear, shake, shrink, shrivel, sink, smoke, soak up, sponge, sun, sun-dry, swab, thin, torrefy, totter, towel, turn gray, turn white, wane, waste, waste away, weaken, weazen, welter, wilt, wipe, wither away, wizen, wrinkle




  1. To shrivel, droop or dry up, especially from lack of water
  2. To become helpless due to emotion
  3. To cause to shrivel or dry up
  4. To make helpless due to emotion

Usage notes


(intransitive) shrivel, droop, dry up
  • German: welken, verwelken
  • Greek: μαραίνομαι
  • Korean: 시들다 (sideurda, sideul-)
  • Romanian: veşteji
(intransitive) to become helpless due to emotion
  • Romanian: veşteji
(transitive) to cause to shrivel or dry up
  • Greek: μαραίνω
  • Romanian: veşteji
(transitive) to make helpless due to emotion
  • Romanian: veşteji


Wither redirects here. For the comic character, see Wither (comics).
For the family name, see Withers (surname).
The withers is the highest point on the back of a non-upright animal, on the ridge between its shoulder blades.


The withers in horses are formed by the dorsal spinal processes of roughly the 3rd through 11th thoracic vertebrae (most horses have 18 thoracic vertebrae), which are unusually long in this area. The processes of the withers can be more than 12" (30cm) in height on the average horse. Since they do not move relative to the ground (as does the horse's head), the height of a horse is measured from the ground to the withers. Horse sizes are extremely variable, from small pony breeds to large draft breeds. The height of the withers on an average Thoroughbred is 16 hands (5' 4").

Conformational issues

The withers of the horse are considered in evaluating conformation. Generally, a horse should have well-defined withers, as they are considered an important attachment point for the muscles of the torso. Withers of medium height are preferred, as high withers make it difficult to fit a saddle and are often associated with a narrow chest, and low withers (known as "mutton withers") do not provide a ridge to help keep the saddle in place.
More importantly, the dorsal spinal processes provide an attachment for the muscles that support the shoulder and neck. Horses do not have a clavicle, so the shoulder can freely rotate backwards. If the vertebrae of the withers are long (front to back), the shoulder is more free to move backwards. This allows for an increase of stride length (and so it can increase the horse's speed). It is also important in jumping, as the shoulder must rotate back for the horse to make his forearm more parallel to the ground, which will then raise the animal's knees upward and get the lower legs out of the way. Therefore, the withers have a direct impact on one of the most important points of conformation: the shoulder.


In dogs, the height of the withers is often used to determine the dog's jump height in various dog sports. It is also often a determining factor in whether the dog conforms to the show-quality standards for its breed.

Medical problems

Inflammation of the bursa in this region is called fistulous withers by veterinary surgeons.
wither in German: Widerrist
wither in Esperanto: Postkolo
wither in Persian: جدوگاه
wither in French: Garrot (quadrupède)
wither in Italian: Garrese
wither in Dutch: Schofthoogte
wither in Low German: Schuft
wither in Polish: Kłąb (weterynaria)
wither in Finnish: Säkäkorkeus
wither in Swedish: Mankhöjd
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