There are 2 main definitions of wear in English:


Syllabification: wear

verb (past wore /wôr/; past participle worn /wôrn/)

1 [with object] Have on one’s body or a part of one’s body as clothing, decoration, protection, or for some other purpose: he was wearing a dark suit both ladies wore a bunch of violets
More example sentences
  • He had no protective clothing and wore only overalls.
  • Both robbers wore balaclavas, dark clothing and hooded jackets.
  • The offenders were described only as wearing balaclavas and dark clothing.
dress in, be clothed in, have on, sport, model;
put on, don
1.1Habitually have on one’s body or be dressed in: although she was a widow, she didn’t wear black
More example sentences
  • Aymara men in the Altiplano region wear long cotton trousers and woolen caps with ear flaps.
  • And what about the robes that priests wear? They too are long, flowing and can be used to conceal such things.
  • Do you wear glasses or contact lenses?
1.2Exhibit or present (a particular facial expression or appearance): they wear a frozen smile on their faces
More example sentences
  • By the time I reached the girl Ryan was presently dancing with, Mark wore a skeptical expression on his face.
  • She looked at Dylan who was wearing a slight unfamiliar facial expression.
  • His familiar face appeared on the front page of the Brighton Argus, wearing an expression of glowering discomfort.
bear, have (on one's face), show, display, exhibit;
give, put on, assume
1.3 [with object or adverbial] Have (one’s hair or beard) at a specified length or arranged in a specified style: the students wore their hair long
More example sentences
  • He was neither tall nor short with graying hair and wore a well-trimmed beard.
  • His short, blonde hair is worn in a style that reminds you of a gush of water.
  • Her honey-blond hair was worn in a shoulder-length bob and she had deep blue eyes.
1.4(Of a ship) fly (a flag).
More example sentences
  • As well as being the senior ensign of the King's ships, the red ensign was also worn by merchant ships.
  • The Blue Ensign worn by Government vessels usually has the badge of the department in the fly.
  • She still continues to wear the Blue Ensign until her hand-over to the Navy, scheduled for September, and her commissioning is due in October.
2 [with object or complement] Damage, erode, or destroy by friction or use: the track has been worn down in part to bare rock
More example sentences
  • The stone toe of Saint Jude, patron of impossible causes, was worn smooth by the desperate kisses of the faithful.
  • Then he noticed that the rock had been worn smooth, as if lots of people before him had also sat on it.
  • They rose through a spiraling passage, surrounded by cool stone that had been worn smooth over the many long years of the school's existence.
erode, abrade, rub away, grind away, wash away, crumble (away), wear down;
corrode, eat away (at), dissolve
2.1 [no object or complement] Undergo damage, erosion, or destruction by friction or use: mountains are wearing down with each passing second
More example sentences
  • Continually running an older car not designed to use unleaded petrol will eventually cause the coating to wear away, causing damage to the valves and cylinder heads.
  • The road surface has worn away.
  • The top layer of our concrete patio has worn away.
2.2 [with object] Form (a hole, path, etc.) by constant friction or use: the water was forced up through holes it had worn
More example sentences
  • Explaining why a formal dress-code hinders your ability to do your job should be easy enough if you're worn a hole through the knee on a pair of pants.
  • What is also happening as a result is that a path is being worn across the grass, which does nothing to enhance the look of the area.
  • It turned out that the float had been vibrating against the body of the carburettor and had worn a little hole through it.
2.3 [no object] (wear on) Cause weariness or fatigue to: some losses can wear on you
More example sentences
  • Impatience and fatigue are wearing on the minds of hurricane victims in Pensacola, Florida.
  • Fatigue was wearing on his already exhausted body, bewilderment on his mind.
  • In a culture where affluence and leisure are seen as birthrights, war, sacrifice, or even the mental fatigue about worrying over such things wear on us.
3 [no object] Withstand continued use or life in a specified way: a carpet-type finish seems to wear well
More example sentences
  • Whether you're planning to do the work yourself or get someone in, remember that gravel requires a firm, consolidated base to look good and wear well.
  • There's a no-nonsense look about the dashboard area - the car is clearly designed here to wear well and not date.
  • These cars perform well; the slightly dowdy interiors wear well and the seat mechanisms have proved robust.
last, endure, hold up, bear up, prove durable
3.1 [with object, usually with negative] British informal Tolerate; accept: the environmental health people wouldn’t wear it
More example sentences
  • When it comes to paying too much money for an event the Government just won't wear it.
  • For a start you'd have the fossil fuel interests opposing nuclear power generation, but more importantly the Australian public just wouldn't wear it I think.
  • To replace bills with coins would save the Treasury at least $500m (£263m) a year. Yet Americans just won't wear it.
4 [no object] (wear on) (Of a period of time) pass, especially slowly or tediously: as the afternoon wore on, he began to look unhappy
More example sentences
  • The day passed slowly for him and as it wore on he began to slowly give up hope.
  • As the afternoon wore on, the sun moved around so that it was warming the side of the building on which we were sitting.
  • And then as the afternoon wore on, they'd move out and sit on the verandah and look out at the garden beyond.
pass, elapse, proceed, advance, progress, go by, roll by, march on, slip by/away, fly by/past
4.1 [with object] literary Pass (a period of time) in some activity: spinning long stories, wearing half the day


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1The wearing of something or the state of being worn as clothing: some new tops for wear in the evening
More example sentences
  • She had left her hotel earlier that morning to complete a wardrobe of gowns suitable for wear in England.
  • It's a well made children's line and is cut on the big size for plenty of wear.
  • The gray physical-fitness uniform is no longer authorized for wear for physical training.
2 [with modifier] Clothing suitable for a particular purpose or of a particular type: evening wear
More example sentences
  • The two brands provide a series of swimwear, gym wear, underwear and accessories which are young, sporty and sexy.
  • The programme began shortly after 8pm and featured the delegates in traditional East Indian wear and evening gowns.
  • Today, these outfits serve as stage costumes rather than street wear.
informal getup, gear, togs, duds
formal apparel
literary array
3Damage or deterioration sustained from continuous use: you need to make a deduction for wear and tear on all your belongings
More example sentences
  • Then he handed out our textbooks; I now had a math book and a history book, and the history book sustained the more wear and tear of the two.
  • As a landlord you can refuse to return their deposit if they have caused damage beyond normal wear and tear.
  • Most guarantees expressly exclude faults which are the result of misuse by the consumer, accidental damage or normal wear and tear.
damage, friction, erosion, attrition, abrasion;
3.1The capacity for withstanding continuous use without damage: old things were relegated to the bedrooms because there was plenty of wear left in them
More example sentences
  • Wildflower Farm also sells Eco Lawn, a blend of seven native grasses that grow well in arid conditions and are designed to withstand wear.
  • Routine safety labeling must have adhesives strong enough to withstand wear, jarring and abuse.
use, wearing, service, utility, value
informal mileage


Old English werian, of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin vestis 'clothing'.


wear one's heart on one's sleeve

see heart.

wear thin

Be gradually used up or become less convincing or acceptable: his patience was wearing thin the joke had started to wear thin
More example sentences
  • The truth is, however, that you can only watch a movie so many times before the appeal wears thin.
  • Anyway, he was funny and fun; but then I saw him a few more times and the gag wore thin.
  • Perhaps the excitement of her fantasies wore thin, and she became obsessed with the idea of confessing all, hence acquiring a thrill and notoriety of a different sort.

wear the pants

see pants.

Phrasal verbs

wear someone/something down

Overcome or exhaust someone or something by persistence.
More example sentences
  • Some teachers, on the other hand, wait until their exit interview to voice concerns about conditions that have worn them down and driven them from the profession.
  • It already had been a long day, and the stress had worn me down.
  • This last 9 months in the wilderness of soul-destroying job applications and mind-numbing temp jobs had worn me down.

wear off

Lose effectiveness or intensity.
More example sentences
  • For many bloggers, the novelty soon wears off and their persistence fades.
  • They also said the effects would wear off and disappear altogether once users stopped taking oestrogen doses.
  • Unfortunately, the hallucinatory effects of the food wore off all too soon.
fade, diminish, lessen, dwindle, decrease, wane, ebb, peter out, fizzle out, pall, disappear, run out

wear something out (or wear out)

1Use or be used until no longer in good condition or working order: wearing out the stair carpet the type was used again and again until it wore out
More example sentences
  • Find a set you like better than any other, and use them until you wear them out.
  • We take many of these things - I'd add watches, jackets, and a few other types of clothes to the mix - entirely for granted until the old one wears out.
  • Other than that, cheap stuff, sale items, and a lot of hand-me-downs went into each backpack, which was also kept until it either wore out or became too youthful for its owner.
deteriorate, become worn, wear thin, fray, become threadbare, wear through
2 (wear someone/something out) Exhaust or tire someone or something: an hour of this wandering wore out Lampard’s patience
More example sentences
  • The night flight, combined with the two-hour time difference, wore us out.
  • So that whole driving trip wore me out although poor Mike did all the driving!
  • He reportedly dumped her because her bedroom antics wore him out.
fatigue, tire out, weary, exhaust, drain, sap, overtax, enervate, debilitate, jade, prostrate
informal poop, frazzle, do in



More example sentences
  • During long flights, most contact lens wearers feel miserable.
  • The pieces of jewellery serve as good luck charms for their wearers.
  • One of the earliest recorded wearers of a wristwatch was Queen Elizabeth I in 1571.

Definition of wear in:

There are 2 main definitions of wear in English:


Syllabification: wear

verb (past and past participle wore)

[with object] Sailing
Bring (a ship) about by turning its head away from the wind: Shannon gives the order to wear ship


early 17th century: of unknown origin.

Definition of wear in: