Definition of wish in English:

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Pronunciation: /wiSH/


[no object]
1Feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable; want something that cannot or probably will not happen: we wished for peace [with clause]: he wished that he had practiced the routines
More example sentences
  • They were graceful to watch in movement, though I wished for stronger color.
  • Because they know what they have always desired, valued, wished for, and they find that these novelties are better means to their own ends than their old ways.
  • He wished for not a care in the world, a place where he could forget all his worries and simply relax.
desire, want, hope for, covet, dream of, long for, yearn for, crave, hunger for, lust after;
aspire to, be desirous of, set one's heart on, seek, fancy, hanker after
informal have a yen for, itch for
1.1Silently invoke a hope or desire, especially in a ritualized way: I closed my eyes and wished
More example sentences
  • I rested my head on the steering wheel, crying silently and wishing, hoping she was okay.
  • I sighed and silently wished I was wearing a skirt, it was easier to walk in.
  • Silently wishing I'd brought my hiking boots, I strike out for the store.
1.2 [with infinitive] Feel or express a desire to do something: they wish to become involved
More example sentences
  • All parents, coaches and mentors are welcome to attend these sessions, which are most valuable for any parents wishing to become involved with the Club.
  • Also needed are locals wishing to get involved by decorating their home, shop, office or workplace along a 1940s theme for the festival weekend.
  • Some of the matters involved in States wishing to retain controls go beyond the simple issues of ministerial empires.
want, desire, feel inclined, feel like, care;
choose, please, think fit
1.3 [with object and infinitive] Ask (someone) to do something or that (something) be done: I wish it to be clearly understood
More example sentences
  • If I wish an organization to lobby for my political beliefs, I will join such an organization.
  • I wish these Indian organizations and many others could reach some level of professionalism.
  • I looked hopefully up at my parents wishing their sad expressions would change, but they didn't.
1.4 [with two objects] Express a desire for (the success or good fortune) of (someone): they wish her every success
More example sentences
  • Alan and Lisa are wished every success and happiness.
  • Both young people are wished every happiness and success in the years ahead.
  • She calls after us to wish us a Shabbat Shalom and while we bless her with health, happiness and success, she wishes us the same.
1.5 [with object] (wish something on) Hope that something unpleasant will happen to: I would not wish it on the vilest soul
More example sentences
  • I've never wished death on anyone, you know, and I'd never wish burns on anyone, but these people, they deserve all that they get and more because they're just a worthless space, they're just nothing.
  • I said, ‘You wouldn't wish the suffering on anyone, but if it doesn't break people it often makes them more generous and empathetic to others.’
  • I am doubtful that you would wish this disability on anyone but by making people aware of the problems, then they won't have to go through the same problems that you have encountered.


1A desire or hope for something to happen: the union has reiterated its wish for an agreement [with infinitive]: it is their wish to continue organizing similar exhibitions
More example sentences
  • They knew his fears and best hopes, his wishes and his dying dreams.
  • We are a mixed bag of people, with different ideals, hopes, wishes and dreams.
  • She told me she was comfortable talking to him, and he supported her wish to continue getting her education.
desire, longing, yearning, inclination, urge, whim, craving, hunger;
hope, aspiration, aim, ambition, dream
informal hankering, yen, itch
1.1 (usually wishes) An expression of a desire or hope for something to happen, typically in the form of a request or instruction: she must carry out her late father’s wishes
More example sentences
  • Their increasing need for independence may make kids want to defy their parents' wishes or instructions as a way of asserting their independence.
  • He added they would consider planning requirements, the wishes of the community and value for money when assessing prospective bids.
  • Jessica has been inconsistent in the expression of her wishes, wanting more time in the care of her father and then being content with the existing arrangement.
request, requirement, bidding, instruction, direction, demand, entreaty, order, command;
want, desire;
literary behest
1.2An invocation or recitation of a hope or desire: he makes a wish
More example sentences
  • Legends have it that if one stands in the circle and makes a wish, it would come true.
  • You said yourself you don't have to come and get anyone that makes a wish.
  • She shuts her eyes and makes a wish in her head then blows out the candles.
1.3 (usually wishes) An expression of a desire for someone’s success or good fortune: they had received kindness and good wishes from total strangers
More example sentences
  • Good wishes are extended to all from the area who are in hospital just now.
  • Best wishes for a speedy recovery to full health to all from the area in hospital and continuing good wishes to those recuperating at home.
  • Throwing tsampa in the air in this way is an expression of good wishes for your own and others happiness and the overcoming of all obstacles.
1.4A thing or event that is or has been desired; an object of desire: the petitioners eventually got their wish


Is it correct to say I wish I were rich or I wish I was rich? On the question of the use of the subjunctive mood, see subjunctive (usage).



if wishes were horses, beggars would ride

proverb If you could achieve your aims simply by wishing for them, life would be very easy.
Example sentences
  • As they say though, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride!
  • If he'd conjured up a guitar and speakers, instead of wasting effort on a childish bit of revenge… and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

wish someone well

Feel or express a desire for someone’s well-being.
Example sentences
  • If you don't care about your own emotional well-being, my just wishing you well won't really help you.
  • The West Highland Way walk was great because as well as giving to charity, everyone joined together in wishing me well.
  • There was that lovely feeling of togetherness with everyone wishing her well, all delighting in the latest chapter in her life.

the wish is father to the thought

proverb We believe a thing because we wish it to be true.
Example sentences
  • Well, sometimes the wish is father to the thought.
  • It seems with England that the wish is father to the thought while the Australians see what they have at their disposal and work from there.
  • Where the wish is father to the thought such logic is convincing.



Pronunciation: /ˈwiSHər/
[in combination]: an ill-wisher
More example sentences
  • For all her outrageous inventions, Mrs. Connell is arguably more endearing than her ill wishers.
  • Just because I don't share the same theology as the wisher doesn't mean I have to get all snippy.
  • This revelation worries me for our future, because it brings his whole character and judgement into focus as a dreamer as well as a wisher?


Old English wȳscan, of Germanic origin; related to German wünschen, also to ween and wont.

Words that rhyme with wish

bish, dish, fish, Frisch, Gish, knish, pish, squish

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wish

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