When people or things languish, they're getting sicker or weaker.
Figuratively, when people or things languish, they're becoming less spirited or less intense, or they're not making any progress.
Part of speech:
(Like “sleep,” “skydive,” and “succeed,” all intransitive verbs show complete action on their own and do not do action to an object. You sleep, you skydive, you succeed, and that’s it. You don’t “sleep a bed,” “skydive a plane,” or “succeed a plan”.
Likewise, something or someone languishes.)
Languished, languishing, languishingly.
"Languishment" is sadness caused by longing.
And "languor" is longing or the agony of longing,
which has its own other forms: "languoring" & "languorous."
Here's the link to languid if you'd like to compare it.
How to use it:
Anything that can lose heart, lose vigor, or lose health can be said to languish. Talk about people who languish, someone's spirits or hopes that languish, equipment or structures or other items that languish, establishments that languish, enthusiasm or appetites that languish, projects or ideas that languish, etc.
Depending on how figurative you like to get, you can also say that places, nations, languages, and ongoing events such as wars and competitions languish.
Something or someone can simply languish, or you can say that you languish over some sad event, or that you languish for something ("they languish for a warm spring day,") or that you languish in a place or under some terrible conditions ("they languished under the strict rule of their impossible-to-please teachers.")
One summer in high school, when I wasn't doing much besides languishing in my room over a breakup, my mom recruited me to paint some rooms of the house with her. It really brought me back to life.
Growing anything in your yard here in Hawaii is supposed to be "gardening on easy mode," with our constant rain and yearlong warmth, but almost every plant I've tried to maintain just languishes.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "languish" means when you can explain it without saying "droop" or "become feeble."
Think of a time you were barely making any progress on a project or toward a goal, and fill in the blanks: "I intended to _____, but that (project/goal) languished (because/when/after/as) _____."
Example: "I intended to write a whole series of kids' books, but that project languished after I wrote one good one followed by a second crummy one."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our October game references some material that may be protected by copyright. I appreciate your understanding as I err on the side of caution by not publishing it here!
A Point Well Made:
Ambrose Bierce: “Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”
1. The opposite of LANGUISH is
2. With no _____, the proposed law languished _____.
A. hoops to get through .. fairly quickly
B. compelling or numerous supporters .. in committee
C. detractors at all .. into being, to the overall approval of society
Answers are below.
To be a sponsor and send your own message to readers of this list, please contact Liesl at Liesl@HiloTutor.com.
Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Usually, we consider a word and all its other forms at the same time. For instance, we looked at lacerate, lacerated, lacerating, and laceration(s) all at once in a single issue. But I like to make an exception for words whose derivatives take the meaning in a different direction. Could you explain why caliber and calibrate were considered separately instead of in one issue together?
Today is another exception. We've already looked at languid, the adjective, and today we'll check out languish, the verb. Try to notice how the tone and meaning are a bit different between these two words.
Subscribe to "Make Your Point" for a daily vocabulary boost.