v. wore (wôr), worn (wôrn), wear·ing, wears
1. To carry or have on one's person as covering, adornment, or protection: wearing a jacket; must wear a seat belt.
2. To carry or have habitually on one's person, especially as an aid: wears glasses.
3. To display in one's appearance: always wears a smile.
4. To bear, carry, or maintain in a particular manner: wears her hair long.
5. To fly or display (colors). Used of a ship, jockey, or knight.
6. To damage, diminish, erode, or consume by long or hard use, attrition, or exposure. Often used with away, down, or off: rocks worn away by the sea; shoes worn down at the heels.
7. To produce by constant use, attrition, or exposure: eventually wore hollows in the stone steps.
8. To bring to a specified condition by long use or attrition: wore the clothes to rags; pebbles worn smooth.
9. To fatigue, weary, or exhaust: Your incessant criticism has worn my patience.
10. Nautical To make (a sailing ship) come about with the wind aft.
a. To last under continual or hard use: a fabric that will wear.
b. To last through the passage of time: a friendship that wears well.
2. To break down or diminish through use or attrition: The rear tires began to wear.
3. To pass gradually or tediously: The hours wore on.
4. Nautical To come about with stern to windward.
1. The act of wearing or the state of being worn; use: This shirt is ideal for wear in sultry climates.
2. Clothing, especially of a particular kind or for a particular use. Often used in combination: rainwear; footwear.
3. Damage resulting from use or age: The rug shows plenty of wear.
4. The ability to withstand impairment from use or attrition: The engine has plenty of wear left.
To break down or exhaust by relentless pressure or resistance: The child's pleading finally wore her parents down.
To diminish gradually in effect: The drug wore off.
1. To make or become unusable through long or heavy use: wore out a pair of hockey skates; a vacuum that finally wore out.
2. To exhaust; tire: Raking the leaves wore me out.
3. To use up or consume gradually: His complaining finally wore out my patience.
wear the pants/trousers Informal
To exercise controlling authority in a household.
1. To be weakened or eroded gradually: Her patience is wearing thin.
2. To become less convincing, acceptable, or popular, as through repeated use: excuses that are wearing thin.
[Middle English weren, from Old English werian; see wes-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.