AskDefine | Define wish

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wish \Wish\, v. t.
To desire; to long for; to hanker after; to have a mind or disposition toward. [1913 Webster] I would not wish Any companion in the world but you. --Shak. [1913 Webster] I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper. --3. John
[1913 Webster]
To frame or express desires concerning; to invoke in favor of, or against, any one; to attribute, or cal down, in desire; to invoke; to imprecate. [1913 Webster] I would not wish them to a fairer death. --Shak. [1913 Webster] I wish it may not prove some ominous foretoken of misfortune to have met with such a miser as I am. --Sir P. Sidney. [1913 Webster] Let them be driven backward, and put to shame, that wish me evil. --Ps. xl.
[1913 Webster]
To recommend; to seek confidence or favor in behalf of. [Obs.] --Shak. [1913 Webster] I would be glad to thrive, sir, And I was wished to your worship by a gentleman. --B. Jonson. [1913 Webster] Syn: See Desire. [1913 Webster]
Wish \Wish\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Wished; p. pr. & vb. n. Wishing.] [OE. wischen, weschen, wuschen, AS. w?scan; akin to D. wenschen, G. w["u]nschen, Icel. [ae]eskja, Dan. ["o]nske, Sw. ["o]nska; from AS. w?sc a wish; akin to OD. & G. wunsch, OHG. wunsc, Icel. ?sk, Skr. v[=a]?ch[=a] a wish, v[=a]?ch to wish; also to Skr. van to like, to wish. ?. See Winsome, Win, v. t., and cf. Wistful.] [1913 Webster]
To have a desire or yearning; to long; to hanker. [1913 Webster] They cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. --Acts xxvii.
[1913 Webster] This is as good an argument as an antiquary could wish for. --Arbuthnot. [1913 Webster]
Wish \Wish\, n.
Desire; eager desire; longing. [1913 Webster] Behold, I am according to thy wish in God a stead. --Job xxxiii.
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Expression of desire; request; petition; hence, invocation or imprecation. [1913 Webster] Blistered be thy tongue for such a wish. --Shak. [1913 Webster]
A thing desired; an object of desire. [1913 Webster] Will he, wise, let loose at once his ire . . . To give his enemies their wish! --Milton. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 a specific feeling of desire; "he got his wish"; "he was above all wishing and desire" [syn: wishing, want]
2 an expression of some desire or inclination; "I could tell that it was his wish that the guests leave"; "his crying was an indirect request for attention" [syn: indirect request]
3 (usually plural) a polite expression of desire for someone's welfare; "give him my kind regards"; "my best wishes" [syn: regard, compliments]
4 the particular preference that you have; "it was his last wish"; "they should respect the wishes of the people"


1 hope for; have a wish; "I wish I could go home now"
2 prefer or wish to do something; "Do you care to try this dish?"; "Would you like to come along to the movies?" [syn: care, like]
3 have in mind; "I will take the exam tomorrow" [syn: will]
4 make or express a wish; "I wish that Christmas were over"
5 feel or express a desire or hope concerning the future or fortune of [syn: wish well] [ant: begrudge]
6 order politely; express a wish for
7 invoke upon; "wish you a nice evening"; "bid farewell" [syn: bid]



Old English wyscan


  • , /wɪʃ/, /wIS/
Rhymes with: -ɪʃ



  1. (with for) to hope (for a particular outcome)
  2. to bestow (a thought or gesture) towards (someone or something)
    We wish you a Merry Christmas.
  3. To request or desire to do an activity.
    I wish to complain.

Usage notes


to wish


  1. a will for something to happen.
    Your dearest wish will come true.


a wish

See also

A wish is a hope or desire for something. Fictionally, wishes can be used as plot devices. In folklore, opportunities for "making a wish" or for wishes to "come true" or "be granted" are themes that are sometimes used.

In literature

In fiction a wish is a supernatural demand placed on the recipient's unlimited request. When it is the center of a tale, the wish is usually a template for a morality tale, "be careful what you wish for"; it can also be a small part of a tale, in which case it is often used as a plot device.
A template for fictional wishes could be The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, specifically the tale of Aladdin, although in the tale of Aladdin the actual wishes were only part of the tale. Also, Aladdin's demands, while outrageous, were mainly variations on wealth (which is still often taken as the most common request).
Classically the wish provider is often a spirit, jinni or similar entity, bound or constrained within a commonplace object (Aladdin's oil lamp for example) or a container closed with Solomon's seal. Releasing the entity from its constraint, usually by some simple action, allows the object's possessor to make a wish.
The subservience of the extraordinarily powerful entity to the wisher can be explained in several ways. The entity may be grateful to be free of its constraint and the wish is a thank-you gift. The entity may be bound to obedience by its prison or some other item that the wisher possesses. The entity may, by its nature, be unable to exercise its powers without an initiator.
Other wish providers are a wide variety of, more or less, inanimate objects. W.W. Jacob's Monkey's Paw is an example of this. Piers Anthony puts a spin on this idea in Castle Roogna: a magic ring claims to grant wishes and then claims credit when a wish comes true, apparently from the unaided efforts of the characters—but every wish made on the ring sooner or later comes true.
Some wishes appear to be granted by nothing in particular. Snow White's mother's wish for a beautiful child might have been a coincidence, but the father's wish in The Seven Ravens transforms his sons into ravens, just as the mother's wish in The Raven transforms her daughter. This is common in a tale involving a person, male or female, wishing for a child, even one that is a hedgehog, or a sprig of myrtle, or no bigger than a hazel nut.
The number of wishes granted varies. Aladdin had an unlimited number. As in the Charles Perrault tale The Ridiculous Wishes, three is the most common, but others may be granted to fit the constraints of the tale. Several authors have spun variations of the wish for more wishes theme, though some disallow this as cheating.
In many stories the wording of the wish is extremely important. For example, characters often say, "I wish I was wealthy." This wording could be taken literally, the wish granted so that at one time the wisher was (used to be) wealthy but is not any more. Saying, "I wish to be wealthy", then because "to be" refers to either the present or the future, they would become wealthy.
A common problem is the granter of the wish being either extremely literal or through malice granting the request in a manner designed to cause maximum distress (such as a request for wealth being granted through inheritance/insurance on the death of a loved one). Certain authors have also tried an "always on" approach: the careless use of the word "wish" in everyday conversation having, often unpleasant, consequences.

In practice

Some cultures have customs in which people are encouraged to "make a wish", such as blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, tossing a coin into a wishing well or fountain, or breaking the wishbone of a cooked turkey.
Even though such wishes are not magically granted, the act of formulating a wish can be beneficial. The wisher has an opportunity to identify what they most desire of all the things in the world. Often, wishing is a time for first becoming aware of a previously-unarticulated hope. Once identified, these hopes can become personal goals.


wish in German: Wunsch
wish in Russian: Желание
wish in Serbian: Жеља
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