Definition of wish in English:

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Pronunciation: /wɪʃ/


1 [no object] Feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that cannot or probably will not happen: we wished for peace [with clause]: he wished that he had practised 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, long for, yearn for, crave, hunger for, thirst for, lust after, covet, sigh for, pine for, dream of;
aspire to, set one's heart on, have as one's goal/aim, seek, be bent on
informal fancy, hanker after, have a yen for, itch for
archaic be desirous of
rare desiderate
1.1 [with two objects] Express a hope that (someone) enjoys (happiness or success): 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.
2 [with infinitive] Want 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, have an inclination, feel/be inclined, feel like, care;
choose, please, think fit
2.1 [with object and infinitive] Want (something) to be done or happen: 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.
2.2 [with object and infinitive] Want (someone) to do or have something: Anne wishes me to visit her
More example sentences
  • It was always cold, and I used to stir risotto in there by myself and wish someone would come visit me.
  • I wish everyone on the Council would visit the Cat Rescue and see for themselves instead of listening to lies and rumours.
  • She was enjoying her sister's visit, but she wished Claudette would not take her duty as chaperone quite so seriously.
want, desire, require
3 [with object, with negative] (wish someone/thing on) Hope that (someone) has to deal with someone or something undesirable: he wouldn’t wish Arthur on anyone
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]: her wish to be a mother
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, hope, yearning, inclination, urge, whim, craving, hunger, thirst, lust;
aspiration, aim, ambition, dream
informal fancy, hankering, yen, itch
1.1 (usually wishes) An expression of a desire, 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, order, command;
want, desire;
literary behest
1.2 (usually wishes) An expression of a hope for someone’s success, happiness, or welfare: the Queen had sent her best wishes for a speedy recovery
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.
1.3A thing that is or has been wished for: the petitioners eventually got their wish


Is it more 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: ‘I wish it didn’t have to be that way.’ ‘If wishes were horses,’ David sighed
More 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: everyone wished him well
More 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: /ˈwɪʃə/
[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

Line breaks: wish

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