Someone who is wan is visibly unwell and lacking in energy. If you’ve had the flu for over a week, and you finally get out of bed looking pale and tired, your mother might say that you look wan.

When your aunt comes to dinner and eats three helpings of dessert, she might seem a little wan as she drinks her tea, meaning she looks sickly and weak — and no wonder, after so many slices of pie! Wan can also describe a fading light — one that is sickly and weak, just like your aunt. When the light bulb in the living room burns out and leaves only wan twilight filtering in, you’ll find it impossible to read.

Definitions of wan
  1. adjective
    abnormally deficient in color as suggesting physical or emotional distress
    “her wan face suddenly flushed”
    synonyms: mealy, pale, pallid
    colorless, colourless
    weak in color; not colorful
  2. adjective
    (of light) lacking in intensity or brightness; dim or feeble
    “the wan light of dawn”
    synonyms: pale, pallid, sick
    wanting in physical strength
  3. adjective
    lacking vitality as from weariness or illness or unhappiness
    “a wan smile”
    not animated or enlivened; dull
  4. verb
    become pale and sickly
    see moresee less
    type of:
    come down, sicken
    get sick
Word Family

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